Black Nazarene devotees who violate health protocols might be arrested by police
The chief of the Manila Police District (MPD) on Friday reminded Black Nazarene devotees that those who will insist on violating minimum health protocols might be arrested.
In a TV interview, Brig. Gen Leo Francisco said as they expect more devotees during the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9, physical distancing must be observed due to the threat of COVID-19.
“Police will be deployed to maintain physical distancing. Devotees will be cautioned… If they insist (on not following) we might end arresting them,” Francisco said.
He said violators will be penalized and there will be buses from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) that will be on standby.
He reminded devotees to always wear face masks and face shields and that churches can only accommodate 30 percent of devotees.
In another interview, the MPD chief said streets of Villalobos, Palanca, north and south bound of Quezon Boulevard, and Rizal Avenue will be closed so devotees can use the areas to ensure physical distancing.
“Before reaching the Quiapo Church, there will be a chokepoint and from there their temperature will be checked… face masks and face shields will also be given to those who don’t have,” Francisco said during the Laging Handa public briefing.
Aside from closures, Francisco said there will be three rings of security.
“First the border city limit, there will be a checkpoint there. Second, the outer checkpoint which is two kilometers away from Quiapo Church and last is the venue security which is in the perimeter of Quiapo Church, Sta. Cruz Church, San Sebastian Church and Black Nazarene School where simultaneous masses will be held tomorrow,” he said.
One day before the celebration, he said there are already 4,000 devotees who attended Friday’s mass.
Francisco added they are aiming for zero incidents and asking for the public's cooperation.
Francisco also appealed to other devotees to just pray at home or in nearby churches.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) earlier said persons below 15 years old and those who are over 65 years old are prohibited to go to churches.
They also told devotees that those who will be barefooted will be banned from participating in the activities.
No vendors are also allowed within the vicinity of Quiapo Church, church-goers are not allowed to bring or use backpacks as well as colored canisters.
Only transparent plastic bags and transparent water containers or bottled water will be allowed.
According to NCRPO, a liquor ban will also be implemented starting 12 midnight of January 9.
Around 20,000 cops will be deployed for the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene. Ella Dionisio/DMS