Smart and Globe will temporarily shut down their network services in parts of Metro Manila starting Wednesday for the annual Traslacion or the procession of the Black Nazarene on Thursday.
In an advisory, Smart Communications Inc. announced that the mobile phone services of its Smart, TNT, and Sun networks in Quiapo, Manila and along the route of the procession will be suspended on Wednesday and restored once authorities say it is safe.
“We are also temporarily stopping the operation of some of our cell sites in parts of Pasay, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Makati, Malabon, Caloocan and Quezon City that are near the procession route,” the advisory read.
Although Globe has yet to release an advisory for the suspension of its mobile services, both companies have been directed by the National Telecommunications Commission in a memorandum to suspend their operations in the procession route as part of safety measures requested by the Philippine National Police.
In the memorandum dated Jan. 6, 2020 and signed by NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba, both networks were directed to cut off all network services starting at 11 p.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 8) until 12 p.m. on Jan. 10.
On Monday, the Manila City government announced the suspension of classes at all levels and work in the local government in the city on Thursday in preparation for the expected massive influx of devotees for the religious event.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority also announced the closure of five bridges in Manila to be used by the procession and due to ongoing rehabilitation works on the Del Pan Bridge, Jones Bridge, MacArthur Bridge, Quezon Bridge, and Ayala Bridge.
The National Capital Region Police Office, meanwhile, announced the suspension of all Permits to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence for three days in certain areas in Manila as part of security preparations for the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Thursday.
NCRPO acting chief, Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, said this is to ensure that the Feast of the Black Nazarene will be free from firearm-related incidents and ensure the safety of the public as well as local and foreign tourists.
The memorandum, signed by Philippine National Police officer-in-charge, Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, covers the areas of the capital city specifically in Quiapo, Sta. Cruz, and Binondo and effective from 8 a.m. Tuesday (Jan. 7) until 8 a.m. Friday (Jan. 10).
“Only members of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement agencies who are performing official duties and in agency-prescribed uniforms shall be allowed to carry firearms,” Sinas said.
No threat has been received by the NCRPO, Sinas said.
Sinas said that around 16,000 personnel will be joining forces to pave way for a safe and solemn procession of the Black Nazarene on Thursday.
The joint task force is composed of personnel from the National Capital Region Police Office, Bureau of Fire Protection, Metro Manila Development Authority, Coast Guard, and volunteers.
Sinas said the police force will cover the procession from the front and sides to prevent intrusion while leaving the back open for devotees.
This way, the procession will not be interrupted and fewer injuries are anticipated, he said in Filipino.
“I cannot guarantee that the police line will not be penetrated because people will really try to, but we will [also] do our best to hold the line,” Sinas added.
The military will also be deploying a thousand of its men, for the first time, to keep an eye on the Ayala Bridge, the only bridge that the procession will pass through this year.
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año has assured the public and devotees that “all bases are covered” as 13,624 police officers will ensure the peaceful and orderly conduct of the procession in celebration of the annual feast of the Black Nazarene.
Año said that weeks before the Traslacion, the DILG, the PNP, BFP, and other law enforcement units were already in coordination to ensure the smooth conduct of the yearly procession, which will transport the Black Nazarene from Quirino Grandstand back to Quiapo Church.
According to the data from the PNP, 2,144 police officers composed of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion and Special Action Force will secure the Andas Wall; 1,065 from the Eastern Police District will handle venue crowd control, and 1,206 from the Regional Headquarters and Patrolmen will be stationed in the Quiapo Church Wall.
A huge chunk of the police force will be manning Segment 1-8 from Quirino Grandstand to Plaza Miranda comprising of 7,191 cops; Segment A-G from Arlegui Street to Quezon Avenue with 517 from the Manila Police District; Area Security with 350; and 1,151 for the Support Unit.
He said 10 firetrucks from the BFP will also be on standby.