Over 5 million devotees expected to join Traslacion 2019

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 3) — The annual feast of the Black Nazarene is expected to draw over 21 million devotees this year, with five million of them joining the religious procession, Church officials said Tuesday.

They expect the procession to move faster than last year which lasted 22 hours. The icon, which was brought through Manila's roads, returned to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or Quiapo Church at 3 a.m. on January 10 last year.

The feast began December 31, while the main event - the Traslacion or the Black Nazarene procession - happens January 9.

Church officials advised participants against bringing pointed objects, backpacks, and alcohol and reminded them to exercise discipline.

"Bawal ang pikon. Paghandaan ito spiritual, physical. Hindi ito dahilan para magalit," said Msgr. Hernando Coronel, rector and parish priest of Quiapo Church.

The church is not prohibiting devotees from jumping into the carriage to touch the Nazarene, but discouraged them from doing so to avoid injuries.

The Metro Manila police will deploy more than 7,000 personnel to keep the procession safe, although no threat has been monitored to date. A no-fly, no-sail zone will be implemented, drones are banned, and mobile signals will be off.

The entire procession will be livestreamed on Facebook. A fiesta mass will be held at the Quirino Grandstand at 12 a.m. on January 9 followed by a morning prayer at 4 a.m. before the procession starts. Processions will also be held in some provinces, and officials announced it is happening for the first time in Batanes this year.

CNN Philippines' Rex Remitio contributed to this report.