The Philippine National Police (PNP) announced today that it will deploy at least 10,000 officers to secure this year’s Black Nazarene procession in Quiapo, known as the Traslación, which is slated to be held on Thursday next week.
The exact number of cops has yet to be determined by the PNP, Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas said in a press briefing today, but of the roughly 10,000, about 1,500 will be responsible for keeping secure the front and sides of the carriage that carries the replica of the original Black Nazarene, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.
Sinas said devotees will still be allowed to climb the carriage, as is tradition, but only from behind, according to GMA News. He added that the PNP will also request that cell phone companies turn off their signals during the event as an additional precaution, though he did not elaborate on why.
The Black Nazarene (or “Poong Nazareno“) is considered one of the Philippines’ most celebrated religious icons. Many of its devotees believe that touching the statue can bring miracles, such as healing or great fortune, making that the objective of many of those who join the Traslación.
The procession serves as a celebration of the religious icon’s arrival in the church of Quiapo on Jan. 9, 1787 after previously being kept in different Manila churches.
During the Traslación, the replica of the Nazarene is placed on top of a carriage called a carroza and pulled along an almost six-kilometer route by barefoot devotees dressed in maroon shirts, the same shade as the icon’s robes.
The religious event is something of a cross between mass and a rock concert, and the chaos that ensues often results in injury and even death. In 2015, two devotees died during the event, one in an apparent crush of people, and the other after collapsing and failing to get timely medical attention due to the crowds.
Monsignor Hernando Coronel, the Quiapo Church rector, told the Manila Bulletin that this year’s event will pass over Ayala Bridge instead of Jones Bridge, which was the route taken in previous years.
“Our route on January 9 will be on Ayala Bridge. According to the Department of Public Works and Highways, it is the safest because it has been retrofitted recently,” Coronel said.