THE Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) is recommending to the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas the implementation of a gun ban in Metro Cebu and other areas in Cebu Province a week before the start of religious activities for the Sinulog 2023 celebration in January.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Janette Rafter, deputy city director for operation of CCPO, said in a press conference Tuesday, November 29, 2022, that they will include other cities in Cebu Province as these are also frequented by some tourists.

“We will recommend that the start of the gun ban will be the end of December because we are opening the Sinulog 2023 on January 4, so one week before the start of the Sinulog opening salvo,” said Rafter.

‘Triple’ crowds

Preparations for the Sinulog 2023 have been ongoing, with the police and officials of Basilica Minore del Santo Niño ironing out plans to ensure the security of people joining the celebration.

Police Brigadier General Roderick Augustus Alba, chief of PRO-Central Visayas, said they want to see everything fixed by December 15, 2022.

The police and the Cebu Archdiocese believe that the number of people who will be joining the solemn procession in January 2023 will triple next year. The solemn procession gathered around three million devotees in 2019.

“By December 15, I want it clear and the probable scenarios established based on the previous Sinulog, based on intelligence information and the current situation on the ground,” said Alba in a mix of English and Tagalog.

Rafter said based on feedback from hotels in Metro Cebu, about 50 percent of the accommodations have already been booked, and this is expected to increase.

She added that Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama might issue an executive order that would implement a liquor ban in areas within the 300-meter radius of the Sinulog grand parade.

The CCPO is also eyeing recommending a signal shutdown during the Sinulog grand parade, but said this will depend on the results of a threat assessment that the police will conduct.

Monitoring

Meanwhile, the police said they will intensify the monitoring of criminals, particularly thieves from other areas in Central Visayas.

Alba said as of November 29, they have not monitored the presence of criminals from other areas in the region. He warned these people that the police will be on alert especially during Sinulog next year.

“I’m warning them, we are warning them that we are ready especially if plans to establish the One Cebu Inter-agency Interdiction Task Force will push through. Their world will grow even smaller. So please (criminals), don’t attempt to come here. Just stay where you are,” said Alba.

The PRO-Central Visayas chief said he wants police visibility intensified particularly in streets, stressing that they will ask for augmentation from other police units in other regions in the Visayas to ensure peace and order during the Sinulog Festival. (LMY)