MORE people flocked to Cebu City to watch this year’s Sinulog grand parade on Sunday, Jan. 20.
According to Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Debold Sinas’ estimates, around 2.5 million showed up for the culminating activity of the weeklong Sinulog celebration compared to last year’s 2 million.
The police, members of the military and volunteers struggled to control the crowd.
Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Royina Garma, the Sinulog security ground commander, was on the ground telling revelers who strayed in the middle of the parade route to go back to the sidelines.
At the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda, CCPO sought the help of guards of nearby establishments to move spectators away from the road because they were blocking the contingents.
Their numbers rose later in the afternoon even if it was raining.
The Advance Command Post at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC), which was monitoring the activity, said crowd control personnel had a hard time disciplining revelers.
However, Sinas, who left the command post to personally tell spectators not to cross the parade route, said there were no major incidents.
Only a handful showed up at the Abellana Police Station to report stolen valuables.
“Generally peaceful. No stampede. No pushing. Of course, someone collapsed, possibly because of hunger. The audience behaved, but others broke the rules when the police were not looking at them,” Sinas said.
A man was arrested outside the CCSC for selling a Sinulog identification (ID) card without permission from the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI).
The suspect was identified as Hanibal Socorro, a resident of Barangay Ermita, Cebu City. Seized from him were complimentary IDs that he sold for P700 each.
Police also arrested Elmer Terzio, 57, a resident of Dipolog City, after he was caught trying to steal the wallet of a woman in the grandstand’s bleacher.
Otherwise, parade organizers declared the event a success.
“We want to thank the police, other government agencies, all the responders, the performers and the public because the success of Sinulog 2019 was because of them,” said Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, who is also SFI executive committee chairman.
The program, which included the street dancing, ritual showdown, grand finale and the fireworks display inside the CCSC, took more than 13 hours to finish.
The street dancing started at 8 a.m., while a mass was ongoing inside the CCSC.
The program was capped off with a grand musical fireworks display at 9:45 p.m.
Tumulak admitted that the entire program was delayed for more than three hours.
Intermittent rain and the huge crowd were to blame, he said.
“But overall, it was a success. Despite the rain, the contingents pushed through with their performance and they were all energetic,” he said.
Meanwhile, there will be classes in all public schools in Cebu City on Monday, Jan. 21.
Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he had no power to suspend classes. “Only the President can do that,” he said.
However, Osmeña said he could declare no classes during an emergency situation. (FROM AYB OF SUPERBALITA CEBU/ KAL, RVC)