Black Nazarene procession trouble free
Hundreds of thousands of devotees joined the annual procession of the Feast of the Black Nazarene as it was brought from the Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church on Monday morning.
Underscoring tight security, cellphone signals were cut around 5 am even as a temporary gun ban in Manila remained in force. The Manila Police District estimated devotees at 800,000, later swelling to over a million.
Organizers began the traditional morning prayer at 4:45 am instead of the scheduled 7 am.
At 5:20 am. the morning prayer, led by Monsignor Hernando Coronel, the Quiapo Church rector, the Black Nazarene was transferred to the carriage from the altar.
Before 1 p.m., the procession was at Jones Bridge as thousands jostled their way towards the image, which is said to have miraculous powers, which stalled the carriage.
Yellow-and-maroon clad devotees chanted “Viva! Viva! Viva!” as the carriage made its way towards the streets of Manila.
“So far so good,” said Philippine National Police Director General Ronald de la Rosa of the procession. “We are basing it on reports from our field commanders that they have not encountered major problems. I hope this continues.”
As of 1 pm, the National Capital Region Police Office has recorded a crowd estimate of more or less 1.4 million devotees in the procession while around 22,000 were at the vicinity of Quiapo Church.
Chief Inspector Kim Molitas, NCRPO spokesperson, said the image of the Black Nazarene of the center of the procession was approaching Escolta during that time.
Molitas said police have not recorded any untoward incident as of late afternoon.
As of 6 pm the image of the Black Nazarene has reached Arlegui St, the eighth of the 25-stop procession. An hour later, it reached R. Hidalgo Street The procession usually takes 20 hours.
The Philippine National Red Cross, in its 7 pm report, said it looked after 1,343 individuals, of which 847 experienced high blood pressure.
“The number of devotees increases every year probably because the Nazareno has touched many lives,” said Coronel in an interview.
Hundreds of police and military were seen around the Quirino Grandstand as government said terror threats were possible after the leader and two followers of the Ansar Al-Khilafa were killed last week in Saragani province.
Quiapo Church Parochial Vicar Fr. Douglas Badong, they are not particular on seeing the procession finished quickly.
"We are not after the speed. What we want is an orderly and peaceful procession. Even if the procession lasts for two or three days, for as long as the flow is smooth, we do not see it as a problem," said Badong in a separate interview. DMS/Robina Asido