Public told to expect tight security, traffic

Posted on November 29, 2012

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DILG Sec. Mar Roxas briefs PNP on security measures to be observed during the Thanksgiving Mass on Friday. (TONEE DESPOJO)

By the time President Aquino’s helicopter lands late afternoon tomorrow in the South Road Properties (SRP), everyone near the templete should be in their seat or standing still.

A 4 p.m. order for “no movement” is standard security for a president’s arrival.

The national thanksgiving Mass in honor of San Pedro Calungsod starts at 5 p.m., preceded by a program of songs and a procession of over 70 carrozas.

Cebu City residents were advised to brace for increased security and traffic arising from the national event at the SRP.

“We are expecting 1.5 million people in a defined area. We want to make sure it is safe, secure and solemn,” said Interior and Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas, who inspected the venue yesterday.

Police officers will be spread throughout the 27-hectare venue.

Roxas said they will be checking for three kinds of threats: petty criminals like pickpockets, troublemakers or saboteurs and an uncontrolled crowd.

“We hope that people understand the security precautions. It’s better to be ready and nothing happens than to be complacent and something bad occurs,” said Roxas, who met with police and fire officials to discuss preparations.

“What we want to avoid is stampede, panic, and accidents. We’re satisfied about the security plans but we can always improve,” Roxas said.

Although people were advised to come early to find a spot to stay and if possible, bring their own chairs, “don’t plan to stay overnight” said Roxas.

Roxas said he would discuss with transport officials how to provide special permits for buses fetching people after the celebration, which is expected to end past 10 p.m.

Shuttle buses will bring passengers for free to the SRP venue from pickup points near the Cebu Technologial University and at Talisay City Hall.

The Cebu city government is fielding 18 Kaohshiung buses to and from the site.

The SRP venue will be open to the public at 7 a.m. on the day of the event, Friday.

However, only vehicles with color-coded passes (red, yellow, blue) issued by the Cebu Archdioceses and the shuttle buses will be allowed to enter the venue.

Starting 10 p.m. tonight until after the Thanksgiving celebration, the SRP will be closed to other vehicular traffic.

At 3 p.m. today, San Pedro’s image will be brought to SM Seaside City at the SRP for the consecration of the St. Pedro Calungsod Chapel (see story on page 2).

After the Mass, the image will be brought to the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City for the third Triduum Mass and an overnight vigil before a fluvial procession.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma blessed the “galleon” that will be used for the sea procession tomorrow.

Msgr. Dennis Villarojo, overall chairman of the Cebu celebration for Calungsod, said they are ready for the big event tomorrow even if some details have to be finetuned.

“We have to refine the parking spaces. People should be ready to adopt some changes that will be implemented on Friday,” he said.

Villarojo said vehicles should just follow directions of the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management.

Before the 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Mass, thousands of devotees will enter the SRP in a foot procession that starts at D. Jakosalem St. in Cebu City for northern parishes and the Talisay City fish port for those from the southern part covering 3.2 km.

About 80 carrozas will bring the patron saints of parishes .

Medical teams and police patrols will guard the entire 3.2 km procession route.

Golf carts will be fielded to ferry people with disabilities, according to the plan.

The 27-hectare venue is sectioned off with ropes for each parish or religious group aside from signages guiding their positions.

Seven firetrucks will be on standby at the venue to be secured by 1,500 policemen, along with Army personnel, cadets and traffic aides. /Reporter Ador Mayol and Correspondent Jhunnex Napallacan
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