MANILA -- A total of 5,613 police officers will be deployed to secure this year's "Traslacion" or the Procession of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde said in a briefing Friday.
The skeletal deployment of police units has begun in Quiapo and Luneta where the Mass will be held, he said.
Apart from police personnel poised to secure the area, snipers, explosive ordnance disposal experts, and K-9 units would be tapped, Albayalde said, adding that security officers would also fly drones to monitor the procession.
Meanwhile, members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team will be activated by Jan. 8, to be augmented by the military's Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR), which is deploying a battalion-size formation to secure the "Traslacion".
The JTF-NCR is the Armed Forces of the Philippines' formation tasked to secure Metro Manila from all forms of threats.
While Metro Manila policemen are on full alert to thwart any attempt to disrupt the procession, other security measures will be implemented a day before the "Traslacion" until Jan. 10, such as "no-fly zones or drone zones, and a gun and liquor ban.
With millions of Black Nazarene devotees expected to join the annual event, Albayalde said police would be conducting random checks on persons carrying backpacks.
Albayalde said they have yet to detect any security threat for this year's procession but noted that they are continuously monitoring certain groups as the NCRPO cannot discount the possibility of any disruption of the feast.
He added that police and military personnel, in plain clothes, would huddle in the crowd to protect the devotees from any threat, including the so-called "lone wolf" attack.
"If we suspect somebody, then they must be monitored carefully," Albaylde said in Filipino, adding that there will be 23 medical stations, 65 ambulances, and 15 rescue boats to assist people during the "Traslacion".
Source: Philippine News Agency