(UPDATED) Slight changes have been made on the route for the procession of the Black Nazarene on Thursday as authorities diverted the procession to the Jones Bridge.
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said that the procession will still follow the overall traditional route but it will go through Jones Bridge and Escolta and it will not pass through the McArthur Bridge due to concerns on the structure's stability and present condition.
Estrada said that the Jones Bridge has already undergone retrofitting and added that the structure is safe to handle huge volume of devotees when the procession passes along the bridge by lunch time Thursday.
Last week, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Undersecretary for Operations Romeo Momo said that the devotees are not allowed to stay on top of the bridge and the flow of the procession should be continuous since the bridge can only handle up to 400 persons at a time.
After the solemn mass, which will be led by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle at 6 a.m., the procession will start from the Quirino Grandstand, then left to Katigbak Drive through Padre Burgos Street, left to Taft Avenue through Jones Bridge, left to Escolta, then turn right along Palanca Street which is below Quezon bridge, left turn to Quezon Boulevard , then it will pass through the narrow streets of Quiapo starting turning right to Arlegui Street, right to Fraternal Street, right to Vergara Street, left to Duque de Alba Street, left to Castillejos Street, turn left to Farnecio Street, right to Arlegui Street.
Then turn left to Nepomuceno, left to Aguila Street, right to Carcer Street, right to Hidalgo Street, through Plaza del Carmen, turn left to Bilibid Viejo through Puyat Street, left to Guzman Street, right to Hidalgo Street, the left to Barbosa Street, right to Globo de Oro Street, through under Quezon Bridge, then turn right again to Palanca Street, right to Villalobos Street, thru Plaza Miranda and finally in front of the minor basilica’s gate.
Vice Mayor Isko Moreno said that this year's religious procession may last longer the past years since the route is longer.
Chief Superintendent Dennis Peña, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) deputy director for operations, said that some 4,000 additional personnel from the NCRPO will be deployed to provide security for the millions of devotees that will flock along the streets of Rizal Park and Quiapo Church.
Authorities expect 10 to 12 million devotees to join the Nazarene procession, one of the country's famous religious event.
Peña said they have already prepared a security plan for the religious event on the procession day itself that can last up to more than 24 hours, depending on the movement of the religious image's carriage.
The previous feasts reported that the Black Nazarene's carriage, locally known as "Andas" sustained damaged while in the middle of the procession since it was not able to sustain the number of devotees jumping toward the carriage just to touch or take a close glimpse of the religious image.
Meanwhile, Moreno explained that since the route is quite longer, more devotees will have the chance to join the event.
"Mas madami po mas makakalahok sa prusisyon dahil mas hahaba ang ruta at makakapunas [sa Poong Nazareno ag mga deboto] at mas madami makakasaksi [ng kaganapang ito]," Moreno said.
The Manila Police District (MPD) and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will each deploy some 1,000 uniformed personnel to help maintain the peace and order during the event.
Estrada said that he already ordered a massive clean-up of the sidewalks along the procession routes.
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said that various rescue units from other cities such as in Makati, Malabon, San Juan, and Pasig will be deployed during the procession.
Also, in anticipation of the huge volume of crowd that will attend the procession, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will dispatch additional security personnel near the bridges along the area of Pasig River in Manila where the procession of the Black Nazarene is expected to pass.
Commander Armando Balilo, Coast Guard Public Affairs chief, said that they are trying to avoid a repeat of the 2011 incident where three devotees fell or jumped off the Quezon Bridge due to the uncontrollable crowd.
"We can't let this similar scenario happened again so we dispatch additional security personnel along the bridges were the Black Nazarene is scheduled to pass through para ma-monitor agad kung may mangyayaring hindi maganda," Balilo said.
He noted that a total of seven teams from the Coast Guard Intelligence Force (CGIF) and Coast Guard Special Operations Group on board rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB) will be deployed not only to provide security for the devotees but also to watch out for any outsiders that will create any unusual scenario from the Pasig River.
"We are just preparing para doon sa mga magtatangka na manggulo mula sa Ilog Pasig. Meron din talagang mga pasaway na mga deboto na tumatalon sa tulay dahil trip lang din nila. Buti nang sigurado tayo para smooth ang magiging pagdiriwang ng Nazareno," Balilo added.
Meanwhile, the MMDA will also deploy two tugboats to support the Coast Guard’s operations. (Sunnex)