THE Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) has heightened its security in the city to ensure a peaceful celebration of the feast of St. Augustine on Saturday.

Police said they have been bracing for a surge in criminal activities such as robbery and theft as well as other petty crimes due to the huge crowd who will watch the various activities lined up for the city's fiesta.

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Among the highlights of the city fiesta includes street dancing, dance competitions, parades, motocross and parties.

On Friday, at least 700 personnel from Cocpo and 200 police personnel from the Police Regional Office (PRO) were deployed during the first Physical Education Rhythmic Dance Festival and Kagay-an Folkloric Dance Competition at the Pelaez Sports Center, which was attended by around 12,000 contingents from the city.

Some soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) were also deployed after the City Government and Cocpo coordinated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to ensure safety not only of visitors, tourists and local crowd but of the participants as well.

Earlier, City Police Director Benedicto Lopez assured for a peaceful fiesta celebration in the city as he ensured the safety of the public.

"The police are on alert against petty criminals especially when there are many people so andiyan din sila nakikihalubilo," Lopez said.

He added that security forces will also be deployed Saturday for the 4th Kagay-an Golden Float Parade Competition and the Lambaguhan Festival.

Meanwhile, the City Government declared Saturday as a special non-working holiday in observance with the 61st feast of St. Augustine.

Republic Act 9644 declares August 28 of every year as a special non-working holiday in the city as the Cagayan de Oro City day will be observed.

In 1662, an Augustinian missionary came to this city to preach Christianity, and in 1949, it officially opens Christianity in the city.

Since then, the history of Cagayan de Oro has paved ways to a lot of improvements. Many have joined Christianity while the population has increased until it became the city in "boom, in bloom and in blossom."

According to Paulita Roa, secretary to the National Heritage Council, the city has always been lively during every fiesta celebration. (Annabelle L. Ricalde/Nicole J. Managbanag)