THOUSANDS of devotees joined the Walk with Mary procession at dawn Friday, Jan. 13, 2023.

The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) estimated the crowd to be between 350,000 and 400,000 people.

Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Col. Ireneo Dalogdog said their estimate was the same as CDRRMO’s.

A Traslacion mass followed at the Pilgrim Center of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu right after the procession.

The police said the six-lane highway from the Capitol in the uptown area to the downtown area, where the Basilica is located, was occupied with devotees, who were enthusiastic to join the religious event after two years of being postponed due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

The police did not encounter any problem in providing security during the penitential walk.

However, they noticed a problem with the devotees at the Basilica.

Dalogdog said that when they arrived at the Basilica with Mayor Michael Rama, they noticed a thick crowd that could put several devotees in danger in case of a stampede.

Because of this, the police and Mayor Rama asked the Augustinian friars to open the doors at the back of the Basilica so that devotees can make their exit there.

No criminal incident was recorded by the police during the entire proceedings from 2 a.m. until the end of the mass past 5 a.m.

Dalogdog said that around 1,200 security personnel from the CCPO, Cebu City Transportation Office, CDRRMO were deployed during the religious event.

During the solemn foot procession on Saturday, Jan. 14, Dalogdog said around 12,000 security personnel will be deployed in the streets from noon to nightfall, aside from the more than 10,000 students from various schools tasked to control the crowd.

Fr. John Ion Miranda, media liaison of the Basilica, said around 35,000 worshippers, including those outside the church compound, attended the concelebrated mass, which was presided over by Fr. Danilo Carido.

Miranda said they were glad that the mass and the procession were held smoothly and orderly, adding that the weather was also good.

In his homily, Carido said miracles only happen if the faithful has strong faith in God.

He said strong devotion to God would enable one to surpass their problems and achieve their desires in life.

Carido encouraged the people to tell all their wants to the Lord, cooperate with Him, and believe in His power.

He also reminded them to always observe humility just like what Jesus did when He was on Earth. (HIC, AYB/TPT