Cebu News

Tight security pays off

Bryner L. Diaz, Grace Melanie I. Lacamiento and Mechelle P. Florita/RHM - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – Authorities reported no major incident in yesterday's Sinulog grand parade, crediting it to stringent security measures both police and military personnel implemented.

Cebu City Police Office Officer-in-charge Conrad Capa said around 2.5 million witnessed the Sinulog grand parade and revelry along the parade route and at the grandstand at the Cebu City Sports Center, and those who joined the Holy Mass at the Basilica del Santo Niño.

He said this year's celebration was relatively peaceful since there were no major Sinulog-related incidents reported to authorities.

He said only a man arrested for resistance and disobedience to a person in authority at the New Imus Road in Barangay Lorega San Miguel was recorded in the police blotter.

A total of 1, 600 police personnel were deployed for crowd control and security yesterday.

The Armed Force of the Philippines-Central Command also deployed 3,000 personnel and 1,000 reservists and Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets.

Capa said there were nine children who got separated from their parents yesterday, including a one-year-old girl who was turned over to the Fuente Police Station. The girl got reunited with her mother a few hours later.

At the grandstand, City Councilor David Tumulak said the city government, the AFP, the PNP, and other security groups kept a close watch, resulting to an uneventful celebration.

"Tight kaayo atong security ubos sa pag-abag sa AFP, PNP and other groups)," said Tumulak, who also heads the city's disaster risk reduction office.

He said that since the time that Sinulog activities started at the CCSC in the morning with a mass, everything was orderly even when the crowd stirred upon the entrance of actors and actresses from the country's big networks networks, including the Gutierrezes, whore close relatives of Mayor Michael Rama.

"Wala pa gyud tay nakita nga problema sukad ganina. Wala ra man (problem when the actors and actresses passed by)," Tumulak said of the estimated

15,000 who witnessed the Sinulog from the grandstand.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-y's Carlito Ermac, K9 division chief also said they did not notice anything amiss since they started assisting local authorities and the city in security the Sinulog.

"Since the start in the (yesterday) morning, wala pa mi nasugatan nga problem gyud," Ermac said.

The only report received was that of a bag that a man inadvertently left behind near a food stall but claimed minutes later around 10 a.m.

"It turned out nga negative man. Diha ra dapit sa may poste sa tindahan, mga personal belongings gibiyaan," Ermac said.

"Basta sa among trabaho nga ingon ana labi pa sa akong  mga tawo, that is already instructed nga mga ingon nga bagahi nga atong masigpatan dayon, ato dayon na  aksyonan dili pabayaan," he added.

PDEA-7, a special operations group against drug, has deployed six K9 units inside the CCSC since Friday, especially monitoring the the VIP area.

Capa, though, said it was a standstill at major chokepoints, especially at Fuente Osmeña and along Osmeña Boulevard, due to the sheer number of people.

He also mentioned the entrance to the CCSC as congested, as those who intended to cross to the other side compete with the use of the road with the contingents who were lugging along their props toward the grandstand, causing difficulty in terms of crowd control.

Tumulak said they actually expected the crowd to reach up only up to 1.5 million, but more people from neighboring provinces and islands traveled to Cebu City yesterday afternoon after the papal visit in Leyte last Saturday.

Despite the challenge to safeguard the public, Capa, who witnessed the celebration as CCPO head for the first time yesterday, said he looks forward to witnessing the next Sinulog.  — (FREEMAN)










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