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CEBU, Philippines – Cebu cops are amping up safety and security preparations for the Sinulog and Fiesta Señor 2024 celebration which begins on January 11 and culminates on January 21.
Deputy City Director for Operations Lieutenant Colonel Janette Rafter of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) said in a media forum on Tuesday, January 9, that they have established a multi-agency coordination center with volunteers, emergency responders, and local government agencies to address safety and security needs.
According to Rafter, drone enthusiasts offered to provide their services to the police to improve real-time surveillance and response during the celebration.
The police official added that there were also volunteers who would be monitoring social media platforms for reports of suspicious activities in the city when the festivities commence.
For this year, police are set to deploy around 5,000 security personnel for the solemn processions. In the previous year, around 19,000 security forces were deployed for the same.
Rafter said that they are expecting more augmentation forces from the military, disaster response units, and other agencies in the days leading up to the celebration and will be configuring deployments based on the length of the procession routes and the size of the event.
Sectors and routes
Besides augmentation, Rafter said that the police have also crafted a “sector” system to properly oversee Fiesta Señor and Sinulog activities in multiple areas in the city.
According to her, each sector is equipped with an incident command post where first-aid responders and police can assist residents, especially those joining the processions.
In December 2023, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu posted the official procession routes of the Fiesta Señor 2024 Walk with Jesus, Walk with Mary, and Solemn Foot Procession.
Father John Ion Miranda, the head of Safety, Security, Peace and Order, and secretariat for the Fiesta Señor 2024, reminded the public to be vigilant and practice common safety tips during the celebrations held at the Basilica.
“We’re expecting hotter temperatures so please always stay hydrated,” the Augustinian friar said during the Tuesday media forum.
Like every year, the church is anticipating large numbers of devotees who will be visiting the Basilica. At present, the Basilica can accommodate 5,000 people.
According to Miranda, the church has allocated at least two areas for senior citizens and persons with disabilities participating in the novena masses held there.
The friar recommended devotees to bring their own small chairs if they want to attend the masses and avoid carrying large bags and backpacks as these are not allowed inside the Basilica. – Rappler.com