SOME 25,000 people participated in the “Walk for Jesus” at dawn yesterday.
Waterfront Police Station Chief Wildemar Tiu said the procession went smoothly.
“Gikan sa pagsugod hangtod sa pag-uli hapsay ra (It was peaceful from start to finish),” Tiu said.
He said nearly 200 policemen from different stations in Cebu City were deployed along the procession route.
They arrived in their assigned areas around 3:30 a.m., he said.
“We did not only focus on the basilica but we covered all areas of the procession, including neighboring streets,” said Tiu in a phone interview yesterday.
Before the procession began, Tiu said they arrested two youngsters who were creating a commotion on Colon St.
They were reportedly drunk and were throwing bottles at each other.
Tiu said the two minors are detained at the Waterfront Police Station.
Police also confiscated 11 traysikads on Colon St.
Tiu said the traysikads were not supposed to be on the street as these would add to the traffic during the procession.
The procession ended around 6 a.m.
This was followed by the first novena mass presided by Basilica del Sto. Niño rector Fr. Jonas Mejares, OSA.
Meanwhile, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma reminded devotees to be gracious hosts to guests participating in the Fiesta Señor religious activities that started with the “Walk with Jesus” yesterday.
“We should welcome our guest with the same hospitality and at the same time also inspire them and lead them to proper devotion to the child Jesus,” he said.
For the biggest celebration in the province, church and government authorities issued joined advisories to ensure a peaceful Fiesta Señor and Sinulog celebration.
Cebu Coast Guard Commander Rolando Punzalan advised against releasing balloons into the air.
He said the balloons can damage aircraft like a helicopter that is often used to release flowers along the fluvial procession route on Jan. 19.
Balloons can also be swallowed by marine animals once these drop to the ocean, he said.
The Mactan Channel will be closed from 4 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 19 to accommodate vessels that will participate in the fluvial procession from Mandaue City to Cebu City, including a galleon that will bear the pilgrim image of the Sto. Niño.
Special permit required
Punzalan said vessel owners who want to join the activity have to present a special permit, or certification of sea worthiness, that is issued by the Maritime Industry Authority.
In a related development, there are no changes in the route of the grand foot procession that will be held in the afternoon of Jan. 19.
Atty. Rafael Yap, Cebu City Traffic Operations Management executive director, said some roads will be closed to traffic by noon.
The grand foot procession will start at the Basilica del Sto. Niño on Osmeña Blvd., head toward Fuente Osmeña, make a right on Gen. Maxilom Ave., a right on the New Imus Road, a left on M.J. Cuenco Ave. and a right on Osmeña Blvd. going back to the basilica.
The Cebu City Police Office will deploy 366 policemen to secure the procession route.
Yap said barangay tanods and college students will help secure the 5.7-kilometer route.
Atty. Paul Yabao, Sinulog co-chairman, said they’ve banned the use of firecrackers during the procession.
He said they’ve also advised devotees to bring radios. They’ve also advised establishments along the procession route to turn on their radios and participate in the prayers during the activity.