THE police and military are on the alert for possible terrorist attacks during the Feast of the Black Nazarene, which draws tens of thousands of devotees to Quiapo Church every year on Jan. 9.
Police are already enforcing stricter security near the church, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila.
“So far we have not intercepted any information of security threats,” an anti-terrorism expert said.
A Manila police officer said they, too, have not detected any security threat, but remained alert given the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and Africa.
“There is no intelligence report about [any threat] but we consider what happened in Paris, the shooting rampage in California and what is happening in Mindanao,” Police Chief Insp. John Guiagui said in local radio interview.
At least nine farmers were shot point blank by bandits belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters while they were tending their farm on Christmas Eve shortly after rebels attacked military posts in Sultan Kudarat.
Philippine National Police spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said police remained on heightened alert despite the end of the holiday season due to the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
The PNP is working closely with the Manila City government in the security preparations aimed at ensuring the safety of millions of devotees who will participate in the traditional procession of the Black Nazarene on Saturday.
On Friday, the image of the Black Nazarene will be brought to Quirino Grandstand for the yearly vigil.
Some 3,500 police officers will be deployed in Quiapo to enforce smooth flow of traffic and security along the route of the procession.
Motorists and pilgrims are advised to observe the routes and plan ahead to avoid traffic and overcrowding on the day of the Feast of the Black Nazarene.