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US, UK, Canada alerts out

THE United States, the United Kingdom and Canada issued separate advisories to their nationals in Manila for Monday’s procession of the Black Nazarene.

Posted on their website, the US Embassy noted that there will be road closures and massive pedestrian and vehicle traffic along Roxas Boulevard and adjacent major thoroughfares.

All cellphone coverage will also be jammed in the vicinity of areas along the route of the procession, with expected telecommunication disruptions throughout Metro Manila, it added.

“Travel in the downtown Manila area [will be] difficult or impossible, as people assemble to participate in the event and during the event itself,” the embassy posted on its website on Friday.

PERSONS OF INTEREST. Two police commandos in combat fatigues watch over 50 men who were held for questioning amid intelligence reports of a terrorist threat on the procession of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila on Monday. Norman Cruz
The Manila City government has already declared Jan. 9 a local holiday with all city offices and schools closed. The US Embassy will also be closed.

The British government, meanwhile, cited information from the Department of the Interior and Local Government on possible terror threats to the procession.

“You should take particular care in crowded places and follow the advice of the local authorities,” it said in an updated advisory on Saturday.

The Canadian Embassy cautioned its citizens who are planning to join the procession.

“Although the event is normally peaceful, if you plan on attending, please exercise caution and expect heavy traffic in the area,” it said via Facebook.

On Monday, the Traslacion or the procession that carries the black wooden statue of Jesus Christ carrying a cross will begin at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, and proceed to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, colloquially known as Quiapo Church.

The 4.5-mile procession usually lasts for 20 hours due to the immense crowds along the route. Catholics will start gathering in the Rizal Park area on Sunday.

The procession is notorious for casualties that result from the jostling of the millions of barefooted devotees as they pull the carriage bearing the supposedly miraculous statue.

The US also reminded the existing Department of State Worldwide Caution, dated Sept. 9, 2016, indicating that there is an ongoing threat of terrorist actions and violence against American citizens and interests abroad, including the Philippines. 

The UK, meanwhile, maintained the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s advice against all travel to Western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago because of ongoing terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups, and advised against all but essential travel to the rest of Mindanao and to the south of Cebu province, including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism.

Topics: United States , US , United Kingdom , UK , Canada , advisories , alerts , Black Nazarene procession , terror threats
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