Traslacion preps: Security to draw lessons from Papal visit, APEC summit

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About 10 to 15 million pilgrims are expected to join the annual traslacion procession for the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Saturday (January 9).

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Preparations are in full swing for the annual feast of the Black Nazarene, which will be held this Saturday (January 9).

Officials are expecting about 10 to 15 million participants.

There will be two processions: One on January 7 for replicas of the Black Nazarene from various parts of the country; and on January 9 for the actual traslacion procession of the Black Nazarene venerated by Pope Innocent X.

The traslacion procession will commence at 7:00 o’clock in the morning on Saturday after the morning prayer which will start at 5:00 a.m. in Quirino Grandstand.

The image of the Black Nazarene will weave through the streets of Manila towards Quiapo church—same as last year's route, covering a distance of about seven kilometers.

Watch: History of Quiapo Church

Last year's procession lasted for 19 hours. As to how long this year’s procession will last, authorities said that it will depend largely on many factors—the size of the massive crowd, the behavior of the pilgrims, the security situation, and even the weather.

Security of pilgrims, main concern

As in past years, the annual traslacion is both a logistical and security nightmare for authorities.

To ensure the orderliness and safety especially of the devotees this year, authorities said they are drawing lessons from last year's Papal visit, and the APEC summit.

According to organizers, preparations for the traslacion would be coded: Code Alpha for Church; Bravo for the local government of Manila City; Charlie for regional agencies including Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA); and Delta for National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Department of Health, and other national agencies.

Though no major security threats have been monitored, security officials are taking into consideration the current trend of violent attacks in other countries in their preparations.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy about 4,000 policemen, scattered all over manila, particularly on the procession route.

Related: PNP inspects Black Nazarene procession route

The MMDA will also bring in about 1,700 personnel to man the traffic, and assist in providing security.

According to the organizers, more than 2,000 medical and emergency response volunteers will also be on standby to provide assistance.

To ensure that this event—considered among the biggest Catholic gatherings in the world—will remain peaceful, the PNP is discouraging the public from bringing certain items.

These prohibited items include backpacks, ball caps, deadly weapons like guns and knives, items that can be used as deadly weapons such as ice pick, selfie sticks, and umbrella with pointed edge, and the use of fireworks.

Intoxicated or drunk pilgrims also will not be allowed to join the procession.