AFP to deploy 900 soldiers for Nazarene procession
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - January 5, 2016 - 1:58am

MANILA, Philippines - The military will dedicate about 900 soldiers for the procession of the image of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of devotees.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said the soldiers would come from the Joint Task Force National Capital Region (NCR) based in Camp Aguinaldo. He said most of the soldiers would be deployed to the venue of the procession while others will be part of the standby force.

“They have the necessary equipment and we will also provide transportation and mobility requirements,” Padilla said in a press conference Tuesday.

“Our colleagues are continuously coordinating with the national (organizing) committee and the PNP (Philippine National Police),” he added.

Padilla said the Joint Task Force NCR would also activate five support task groups for logistics, covert security which would involve soldiers in civilian clothes, overt operations, which will be handled by military personnel in uniform, disaster response operations and communications.

He said soldiers would also be provided with equipment for biological and chemical hazards, explosives and search and rescue. Helicopters and trucks will also be deployed when necessary.

Padilla said security forces have not monitored any threat that would disrupt the procession. He, however, admitted that crowd control remains a concern.

“The most serious concern we are expecting is the crowd control. This has caused injuries because the devotees were overwhelmed by their emotions,” the military spokesman said.

Padilla said the Joint Task Force NCR may be placed on red alert to ensure enough manpower during the event. A red alert entails the cancelation of all leaves of absence. Supporting military units, meanwhile, may declare a blue alert, which places half of the troops on standby.

The January 9 event is called the Traslacion and commemorates the transfer of the Black Nazarene image to Quiapo from Intramuros in the 18th century. Contrary to popular belief, it does not celebrate the feast of the Black Nazarene. The feast of the image of Jesus Christ carrying the cross is celebrated every Good Friday.

The Black Nazarene is a life-size image of Jesus clad in maroon robe, wearing a crown of thorns and carrying a big wooden cross in a semi-kneeling position.

The image, which has survived earthquakes, fires, bombings and floods, is believed to be miraculous.

Many devotees brave the huge crowds to attend the Traslacion to seek forgiveness for their sins and to ask favors.

ARMED FORCES BLACK NAZARENE CAMP AGUINALDO JESUS CHRIST JOINT TASK FORCE JOINT TASK FORCE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION NBSP PADILLA PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE RESTITUTO PADILLA TRASLACION
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