POLICE and military implemented tight security measures in Davao City to ensure a peaceful conduct of the 25th Kadayawan Festival.

Task Force Davao Deputy Commander Eriel Niembra said more than 1,000 police, military, and civil defense personnel were deployed during Saturday's celebration.

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"We have four fived checkpoints in the entry points of the city, in Sirawan, Calinan, Buhanin, and Ilang. We have six random checkpoints," Niembra said in an interview.

The military deployed around 600 personnel, including the reserve battalion from the 10th Infantry Division, he added.

Meanwhile, Davao City Police Office Director Rene Aspera said 200 police personnel were deployed in the streets and checkpoints. Some 400 civil defense personnel were also deployed in barangays.

Niembra said the police last Saturday were on yellow alert and strict guidelines were implemented in checkpoints.

He said they have reports in the field that some public officials in the city refused to have their vehicles inspected at checkpoints.

"Lahat naman pinapakiusapan natin ng maayos. Kung ayaw nila kinakausap lang natin. Talagang kinukuha natin yung baril nga mga military and police escorts nila at dine-deposit sa mga checkpoint. Wala namang incident na may nag-violate o may nahulihan ng illegal drugs. Yang mga ganyan alam na rin siguro nila na hindi talaga sila makakapasok," Niembra said.

Strict traffic rules

Also on Saturday, the Traffic Management Center (TMC) has implemented strict guidelines on street vendors at San Pedro area where the main celebrations took place.

Vendors were moved out of their spots, around 5 a.m. to 6 a.m., as they were not allowed in the main areas. It was the first time said measures were implemented during a festival.

Railings were also placed along the sidewalks so that spectators would not pour on the streets during performances. Hobbyist photographers and the media were given assigned areas. Only the media can occupy the area immediate to the stage while hobbyists can stay across the stage.

"Pinagbawalan sila sa mga dadaanan ng parade at sa mga streets within the main area. Bawal sa City Hall drive, itong Crooked Road, para iwas sa gulo. Ayaw nating bigyan ng chance na meron mangyaring gulo so na clear out ang streets. Ang ibinigay natin is sa Osmeña na area diyan pwede sila diyan," said Chief Desiderio Cloribel in a phone interview Saturday.

Hotcake vendors Linneth and Agusta were not too pleased with the new measures even as they came back to their spot after being ordered to move out of the Crooked Road.

"Stikto lagi kaayo karon. Karon ra man ni nga ingunani. Dili pud kayo daghan ang tao, wala nidagsa. (It's very strict now. It's only this year's celebration it was like this. Also, there aren't many people, they did not crowd the streets)," Linneth, 40, said.

Twenty-seven-year-old handicrafts vendor Benny, who was also ordered to move out of Crooked Road, was saddened with the treatment he received.

"Nag-sigi man sila ug warning. Katong mga gahi ug ulo kato silay gipugos na gyud ug hawa. Lain lang ba kay medyo layo na mi sa mga tao (The TMC personnel did gave warnings. Those who were hard headed were the ones who received forced evacuation. It's just bad that we're far from the crowd)," he said.

Cloribel said 140 out of 300 of TMCs forces were deployed and have extended their work hours to 9 p.m. for the celebration. Close monitoring are done in the busy areas of Quirino and Boulevard.

"My orders are for them to maintain traffic in their assigned areas. Magpainit gyud na sila. Ilaha gyud ang init ug abog. Nag-shifting name kay kagabii niabot ug alas dos ang rehearsal sa kadayawan. Na-extend and ilahang oras by one hour. Ana ko sa ilaha nga sakripisyo na lang gyud ni ninyo para sa peace and order sa celebration. (They will have to stay under the sun, all the heat and dust would be theirs. We've already done a shifting because last night the rehearsal went as late as 2 am. Their work hours were extended by one hour. I told them to just sacrifice for the peace and order of the celebrations)," Cloribel said.

Displeased

In another report, some Indak-indak participants were displeased with the conduct of this year's street dance.

Participants complained though the local government of Davao is making Kadayawan 2010 as better as before.

"Mas maganda talaga last year for some reasons, like, mas malaki ang budget last year, at 'yung tao mas kumunti na ngayon," said Jhon Dasalla, choreographer of San Lorenzo Elem. School Dance troupe.

"Compared last year, there were two categories: for Davao participants and outside Davao, but now, isa nalang, dapat may categories for beginners, youth at iba pa," Dasalla added.

According to Angel Montez, choreographer of Mapawa National High School, "Dapat yung nag-organize, hindi nila i-allow yung mga photographer na naga take ng pictures sa lugar na naga perform kami kasi naka-epekto sa performance namin, pero maganda yung routing sa parada ngayon kasi hindi na masyadong malayo."

Despite of the significant decrease of budget for Kadayawan this year, the support of the local government of Davao was notable in their accommodation the meals of all participants of Kadayawan, the security of the city, as well as the over-all celebration.

Jesus Salise, a traffic enforcer of TMC also noted a significant difference between this year's Kadayawan compared last year.

"Last year, masikip masyado ang traffic at matagal masyado natapos ang parada, compared ngayon, madali nalang natapos at wala akong masyadong napansin na malalaking traffic violation ngayon," he said. (JCZ/With Jereco O. Paloma)