MANILA -- Malacanang assured Wednesday of a secure and peaceful celebration of the Black Nazarene on Thursday, as authorities have not monitored any terrorist threat.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the government does not need to request telecommunication companies to jam phone signals in Quiapo and surrounding areas just like what it did in 2012 following information about a possible terrorist attack.
"Ito po ay nangyari two years ago, I think. Wala namang ganoong klaseng banta," he said.
Nonetheless, Lacierda said the Philippine National Police and the Metro Manila Development Authority personnel have been deployed for the feast.
"Since it involves a huge mass of people, we have to be there," he said.
He also said that authorities will maintain health stations at strategic points of the procession route.
He appealed to the devotees of the Black Nazarene to exercise discipline during the procession.
"This is another opportunity for them to come together and offer their supplications for the coming year. We ask them to please observe discipline," he said.
Lacierda also advised the devotees to rest if they feel tired during the procession, which may take hours.
On Thursday, devotees of the Black Nazarene are expected to flock to Manila to take part in the traslacion, which highlights the yearly event.
Lacierda also said there is no plan to declare a holiday in Manila on Thursday due to the expected difficulties in the flow of traffic.
"All of us learned through the years to adjust to the occasion. I am not aware of any intention to declare it a special holiday," he said.
Meanwhile, devotees of the Black Nazarene were urged not to participate in the religious procession if they are under the influence of liquor.
Fr. Ricardo Valencia, parochial vicar of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (also known as St. John the Baptist Parish), said that drunk residents of Quiapo district should just stay in their homes or respective places rather than join the procession since it would somehow be a sign if disrespect for the religious patron.
"Igalang po natin ang Mahal na Senyor Nazareno. Ang kailangan po dito tunay na deboto (devotee), hindi de-bote (a local slang term for drunkard)," Valencia said during a radio interview.
Valencia said that in the past years, authorities were able to catch "drunk devotees" during the procession who were doing nasty things and engaging in other ridiculous acts, such as stealing, or engaging in a fist fight with other barefooted faithful devotees.
He said those reported people were mainly residents of Quiapo, living along the narrow streets of the district were the procession passes through.
Quiapo Church Rector Monsignor Jose Clemente Ignacio, on the other hand, urged the devotees to patiently wait for the Black Nazarene's image to be placed first on its "Andas" before the procession rather than flock in front of the statue right after the solemn mass to prevent any further damage to the centuries-old religious image. (SDR/John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)