MCPO tightens security for ‘Simbang Gabi’

The National Shrine of St Joseph Church in Brgy. Centro, Mandaue City, Cebu.
The National Shrine of St Joseph Church in Brgy. Centro, Mandaue City, Cebu.Photo by HIC

A DAY before the Misa de Gallo begins, the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) announced an increase in police visibility in areas attracting crowds, such as churches and shopping malls.

Misa de Gallo, commonly known as “Simbang Gabi” in the Philippines, is a series of dawn masses from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. observed from Dec. 16 to 24, 2023, Christmas Eve. This is a tradition passed down to the country by Spain to observe the essence of Christmas.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Jose Rovic Villlarin, MCPO’s deputy city director for operations, said Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, they will place at least two police assistance desks and two patrol cars, comprising around 10 police personnel within each church to ensure heightened security.

He explained that the heightened measures were in response to the suspected terrorist bombing at Mindanao State University in Cagayan de Oro City. The incident, which occurred on Dec. 3 during a Catholic mass service at the university gym, resulted in the tragic loss of at least four lives and left dozens of citizens injured.

The MCPO heightened its security measures following the incident. It will intensify police visibility in Mandaue City’s eight main churches, including one gymnasium in Barangay Opao, which will hold Misa de Gallo masses.

These churches are the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Barangay Centro, Holy Family Parish in Maguikay, Gethsemane Parish Church in Casuntingan, Christ the King Parish in Alang-Alang, Holy Fatima in Pagsabungan, Grosmar Church in Guizo, San Roque Parish in Subangdaku, and Nativity of Mary Parish in Canduman.

Aside from churches, Villarin said MCPO also deployed more police personnel in shopping malls and financial institutions, such as banks and money remittance centers.

He also advised the public to refrain from carrying valuable items when going to crowded places and to ensure that there is someone present at home when they leave.

Villarin also advised parents to always keep an eye on their children at all times while attending gatherings outside. He also clarified that Mandaue City will still observe curfew hours for minors from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Selling of firecrackers, except pyrotechnic or commercial fireworks, is still not allowed. Villarin said the city has so far logged zero firecracker incidents.

MCPO has roughly 600 police personnel, but Villarin said they have not yet determined how many will be on duty during Christmas.


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