Aquino thanks troops for safe, longest procession



President Benigno Aquino III MALACAÑANG PHOTO

After 22 grueling hours, it left a spent army of devotees slumped on the pavement, Church leaders pondering what had become of their flock, and the government patting itself on the back for thwarting an alleged terrorist plot.

This year’s procession of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo entered the books as the longest in the history of the 17th century icon—thanks, or no thanks, to some broken wheels and the refusal of diehard believers to take shortcuts.

The statue was paraded starting at Quirino Grandstand in Manila at 8 a.m. on Monday and returned to its home at Quiapo Church at 6:11 a.m. Tuesday, inching its way through a swarm of pilgrims down a 5-kilometer route in the city’s central enclaves.

Organizers mainly traced the unprecedented delay to the Nazarene’s carriage stalling early in the procession, when two of its wheels broke under the sheer crush of devotees trying to mount it. By late afternoon, all the wheels had been damaged and devotees could only move the carriage by lifting it off the ground.

The procession could have been cut short by at least seven hours had the devotees agreed late Monday night to skip parts of the original route and  take a shorter way to Quiapo, as suggested by police and parish officials.

But the predominantly male crowd angrily rejected the suggestion. For about an hour, at the corner of Palanca and Villalobos Streets, the religious ritual morphed into a tug of war—with   the Nazarene caught in the middle—between the marshals who favored the shortcut and the diehard devotees who wanted to stick to tradition.

About 200,000 devotees—out of the estimated  8 million who flocked to Manila for the procession—welcomed the statue’s arrival at Quiapo Church. Many were forced to wait it out and sleep on the sidewalks and storefronts around the church.

Aquino thanks troops

President Benigno Aquino III, who on Sunday warned that terrorists were targeting the feast and ordered tighter security in the area, yesterday thanked the police, the military and the intelligence community “for our successful operation.”

“Also laudable was the way our people followed our instructions to ensure the safety of all,” Mr. Aquino said in a speech during the installation ceremony at Villamor Air Base for the new Philippine Air Force chief, Lieutenant General Lauro Catalino de la Cruz.

“Like the preparations we showed in the past two days, you can expect that the government would remain on the alert every minute to watch the welfare, right and livelihood of every Filipino,” he said.

In a briefing, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the government continued to pursue a group believed to be composed of “bomb experts” based in Mindanao.

He did not give further details, except to say that this group may have been forced to “go underground” because of the warning issued by the President on the eve of the Quiapo procession.

Lacierda also defended the security precautions taken by the government, including the decision to ask telecommunication companies to shut down mobile phone signals in the procession area lest terrorists use phones as triggering devices for bombs.

“This is a situation where we believe that the government acted prudently, acted promptly on credible threats,” he told reporters.

Asked whether the government would resort to the same measures again, Lacierda said it would depend “on what is presented to us or to the intelligence community.”

As to criticisms that the government overreacted to the supposed terror threat, the Palace spokesperson said: “Would you rather have casualties? We did what we have decided as prudent at that point. And a statement (like that), that it was an overreaction, is always ‘hindsight 20-20.’”

‘Excess fanaticism’

A Catholic priest in charge of the procession admitted that the devotees displayed an “excess of fanaticism that needs to be corrected.”

“It’s our task to slowly form and educate the faithful about their devotion and the right way of expressing such devotion that will not harm themselves and others,” said Msgr. Clemente Ignacio, rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.

“We admit that there were elements or excess of fanaticism that needs to be corrected but we also saw from them yesterday the seed of their deepening devotion,” Ignacio said in a phone interview.

“I understand their very strong desire to touch the Black Nazarene. That’s their way of expressing their faith,” he said, referring to devotees who risked injury just to get near the image.

Over Church-run Radio Veritas, Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr. said the Church must make the devotees realize that it was only through deep faith—and not through towels or handkerchiefs—that they could touch Jesus Christ.

“The Church must focus on catechesis because it’s not good that people are getting hurt during the procession,” Bacani said.

“They must be taught that they don’t need to jostle their way up to the carriage just to touch the image of the Black Nazarene. It’s not the touch of the hand that matters but touching the Lord through their faith.”

No alert downgrade

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Tuesday clarified that the government had “not downgraded” the terror alert level.

“We’re continuing the operations to locate (the terror suspects). We could not be sure yet,” he said.

On Monday, Gazmin said security agents were tracking six to nine members of an “extremist group” from Mindanao who arrived in Metro Manila in August last year possibly to stage a bomb attack.

“This is not an ordinary threat because the suspects were sighted and they have the intention (to stage a terrorist attack),” the defense secretary said, without giving details about the suspects’ identities, affiliation or capabilities.

“Our men are following up leads … so that even after the festivities (in Quiapo) the operations are ongoing to capture the suspects,” he said. “We will not stop until we capture these suspects.”

Also on Tuesday, the Philippine National Police said it was maintaining its full alert status in Metro Manila.

The PNP spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr., said the National Capital Region Police Office would continue exercising security precautions in “vital installations and economic key points,” including government offices, business districts, train stations, bus terminals and other crowded places.

But Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo said he believed that the threat had passed following the raids conducted by police on suspected terrorist lairs on Sunday and Monday. The raids, though, yielded negative results.

“The downgrading of the alert status will formally come from the PNP, but because the (feast) is over, we don’t want the citizens to be alarmed by the prevailing high alert,” he said.

Robredo said various PNP units raided suspected terrorist safe houses in Angono, Rizal province; Culiat, Quezon City; and Baseco in Manila.

He also explained that previous intelligence reports indicating a possible terror threat were not specific to the Black Nazarene procession, but that recent assessments made by government experts pointed to the procession as the most likely target of an attack.

Most elaborate

PASSION AND SERENITY Hundreds of thousands of maroon-clad Black Nazarene devotees pass by the greens of the Intramuros Golf Course on Monday night during the procession that lasted 22 hours. At the back is the skyline of Manila’s Ermita district. LYN RILLON

Mr. Aquino’s warning sparked one of the most elaborate security deployments for an event in the capital in recent years. About 15,000 policemen, backed by hundreds of army troops,

secured the procession route, while Air Force helicopters stood by.

Police estimated 8 million people attended the feast centered on the cross-bearing statue of Jesus Christ, which is believed to have healing powers.

Devotees waving handkerchiefs and towels let out shouts of “Viva!” as the statue was finally brought inside the church at the end of the grueling procession.

The Philippine Red Cross said it had treated 569 devotees as of Tuesday morning for minor injuries, exhaustion or dehydration.

The Manila Police District (MPD) said the only security issues it encountered during the procession came from a handful of pickpockets—and an abandoned, suspicious looking box left outside Quiapo Church on Monday morning. The box later turned out to contain nothing but kalamay (a rice delicacy).

Save for four incidents of petty theft, the country’s biggest religious procession was generally crime-free, said the MPD spokesperson, Chief Inspector Erwin Margarejo. With reports from Jocelyn R. Uy and Christine O. Avendaño, DJ Yap, and Dona Z. Pazzibugan; and AP

Originally posted at 06:39 pm | Tuesday, January 10, 2012

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  • pangitbudhiko

    If they were spotted why did the intelegence group not arrested them. Tapos binigyan mo pa ng babala yung mga terrorista na nakita namin kayo at alam namin ang inyong safe kailangan magtago kayo at yung safe house ninyo lulusubin namin.

    When The Navy Seal team 6 was making an operation against Osama Bin Laden and eventually killed him in the operation. The Operation against Osama was so secret even the closes adviser of Barack Obama was not informed of the ongoing operation. And when Bin ladin was confirmed dead that’s the only time President Barack Obama went on live television informing the People of the United States and the rest of the world that JUSTICE HAS BEEN DONE AND Osama Bin Laden was killed in an operation conducted by  Navy Seal Team 6.

    Kabaligtaran naman ang style sa Pilipinas Televise kaagad ni Abnoy na the Enemy of the states has been spotted and the safe house are known to the government agent. Talaga din namnan PULPOL AS IN TALAGANG PULPOL

    • m1600

      you hit it right on the head the most intelligent analysis ever.

      • pangitbudhiko

        Salamat m1600

    • turkak

      pangitbudhiko  good observation Man, pero ang pinakamagandang nangyari dito ay yung isang malaking revelation na ang taong bayan ay di na naniniwala sa mga pinagsasabi ng Pangulo.  Lahat ng mga pinagbawal ng Pangulo sinuway lahat ng mga deboto. Mula sa celfone, sa fireworks,  at matanda at mga bata na ayaw pasamahin dumating sila lahat.Pwede ng nga sabiihin na maliit na Civil Disobedience ang ginawang pagsuway ng tao laban sa Pangulo dito. Nalusaw ang popularity niya at trust and confifence ng tao sa Terror threat announcement na ito.

  • turkak


  • pangitbudhiko

    If the military has seen the terrorist and did not arrested them, the next thing the military should have done was to really gather more intelegence  work to get TERRORIST THAT ARE CONSIDERED “HIGH VALUE TARGET”

     the operation against Bin Laden was initiated by the CIA six months prior to his being killed. All detained high ranking al qaeda when they are being  interrogated a name always pops up. An interrogator passes this name to the CIA. when an al qaeda operative (his cell phone has been bug by the CIA) receive a call from this person that gave them a break.  And eventually led to a house sorrounded by high walls in ABBOTTABAD, PAKISTAN. The work did not stop there all the resources of the government were put to use Like images from satellite of the compound. And the satellite image shows that there is one solitary figure who is tall who seldom goes out of the House. The CIA also planted a CIA operative near the house. When it was confirmed that a high Value Target can be found inside the Compound this was relayed to OBAMA. Obama then called his Military adviser to launch an operation to capture the HVT Terrorist. And that was the end of Osama bin Ladin.  The entry team of the navy seals have video cameras mounted on their helmets and if a navy seal face show it is covered or made not recognizable.  The Operation was shown to the Military Channel after it was sanitized b y the CIA.

    Unlike in the philippines it has to be published that a terrorist has been spotted and their safe house is know to the Military. I really don’t know what to say And this Voltaire Gasman supposed to be a PMA’er confirm to the media that the military has spotted terrorist in the city. Puro kasi buko juice and laman ng utak nitong mga ito.

  • clarencelinares


  • pangitbudhiko

    Voltaire Gazmin dude you need to be retrained, the job you have doesn’t fit you. You should instead be assign as the intellegence chief of all the barangay captain in the Philippines. Wrong position for you dude. You are just showing how inept and “inutil” you are.

    • magcalasL

      You want to be the defense chief? what;s your qualifications aside from being an idiot? Please post an intelligent one.

      • pangitbudhiko

        I am happily retired receiving my pension and my old age benefits from the Canadian Government and my SSS pension from the Philippine Government, why will I be interested in that stupid position. You can have it for all I care. And I am not an idiot mind you, name any thing under the sun and I will dissect it for  you

      • angie1875

        If you spot a terrorist, you cannot get him since he may suddenly explode his bombs wherever they are. Monitoring and surveillance to catch the entire operation and operatives take time. With lack of time, informing the public is next best thing, because if something did explode, people will get mad and blame the govt for not warning them like in Ondoy or in flash floods in Sendong ( they ignored warnings).  

      • pangitbudhiko

        Yes informing the public is next best thing to do, that the terrorist are planning to disrupt the procession. But you don’t  announced in public that you know the faces and the safehouses of the terrorist. You keep that close to your chest and then exploit that to your advantage. What is happening the government is giving the terrorist chance to hide and get out of their safehouses because the agent of the armed forces will be knocking at their front doors.

      • pangitbudhiko

        In Iraq and afganistan the coalition forces will destroy the terrorist if they are ordered to stop specially if the terrorist are riding a motor vehicle  or walking towars a check point and was ordered to stop and didn’t stop. That  person will be gunned  down and killed, the vehicle will be destroyed

        Where did you get the idea the you cannot get him because he will detonate his explosive. Remember a muslim suicide bomber is already predetermined to explode his bomb wether you stop him  or not.

        Jovito Palparan did the right thing when he terminate a lot of the enemy of state.

      • pangitbudhiko

        and your’e asking me to post an intellegent one, Have you read all my posting if not then try to go back to all my posting them probably you will understand it better…….

      • pangitbudhiko

        And when  I post something and relates to actual events, buddy YOU CAN TAKE THAT TO THE BANK.

    • malaya1962

      bossing, ang qualification lang po kase ni Gazmin ay nadinkit siya sa mga Aquino, iyon lang po at wala ng iba… bayad utang lang po and in this government hindi po kailangan ang talino at prinsipyo, maging YES amn ka lang, in ka na … in short tuta lang po okay na and mahilig sa pera…

  • seekleer

    SA simulat-simula pa, ang style ng gobiyerno ni Pnoy ay via Media campaign. Iyan ang turo sa kanya ni Kris na kanyang kapatid. Lahat ng bagay sa Pinas ay na-influwenza ng “good” publicity. Na-anjan ang “walang wang-wang”, na-anjan ang presecution of the Corona via media, ganoon naman din kay GMA. Basta puedeng pang headline na-anjan siya. Pero, kung sa ano mang bagay at isyu na ikau-unlad ng bayan, wala siya. Magda-dalwang taon na siyang Presidente, ano ba ang nagawa niyang kabutihan sa bayan, bukod sa pag-uusig sa GMA, Palparan, etc. Pero, hanggang ngayon, si Ping Lacson malaya pa!!! Kakampi niya kasi!! ano ba yan?

  • angie1875

    I guess if you don’t like Pnoy, lahat mali na. If the govt issues warning, mali.. If they don’t issue a warning and a bomb exploded, sinisisi rin nila si Pnoy. Look at the typhoon warnings. People ignore them, pag na landslide na, hanap ng masisisi.Pnoy did the practical thing since we Filipinos are natural blamers. I am sure people here in this blog will be the first to say tulog ang gov’t if a tragedy happened. Why can’t anybody commend our military? Crab mentality talaga.

    • Jose

      Agree with that, 100%.

      It’s not just the crab mentality, it’s the lynch mob mentality so many Pinoys have.

    • Xwcd Cxw

      the government should have averted any terrorist threat WITHOUT going public and making public scare.

      do you think its good for our economy and tourism to be hearing from our president that we are under threat of terrorism? isnt it his job to make us feel secure and not scare us? we are not paying taxes just to be told to take care of ourselves. peace and security is the job of the government.

      they (the administration) must do their job. there is a reason why there are intelligence funds for the AFP and PNP.

  • Mong

    sayang lang ang milyong milyon intelligence funds sa palpak na mga reports. ipinatayo na lang sana ng mga paaralan. ano ba yang mga scenario pang tubos ng mga ginastos nitong christmas? pumapapel si gazmin palpak naman. wala na kayong inatupag kundi mangurakot.dapat nga mag pa salamat kayo sa mga sundalo at pulis kasi makaka kolekta na naman kayo ng pondo.

    • malaya1962

      wow as expected after the drama in full coverage, salamat sa troop … palakpakan ang gandang teleserye.. 6 months of doing nothing para mahuli ag mga terrorista daw” PNoy nasa paligid mo lang sila di ba… bossing mo nga ang mga NPA/MILF/Leftist (Llamas, Hontiveros, Deles) bakit kailangang mag-hintay ka pa ng 6 months… tsk tsk tsk.. mahirap gisingin ang nagtutulugulugang tamad … funny talaga sa pilipinas

  • anu12345

    A Catholic priest in charge of the procession admitted that the devotees
    displayed an “excess of fanaticism that needs to be corrected.”

    1,000% correct observation and about time or long overdue. And it’s been said by a catholic priest.

  • Michael

    Nakakatawa naman ang gobyernong ito. Now it’s claiming, it has thwarted a terrorist plot. Hahaha. Mas nakakatawa si Lacierda, when asked about the terror group they were pursuing: “they may have been forced to go underground.” Hahaha. It’s really fun in the Philippines.

  • Michael

    Does P-noy really know what he’s reading in his teleprompter? “laudable was the way our people followed our instructions to ensure the safety of all.” How did your people follow your instructions? Did they stay at home when you told them to? How, how? I see you’re drooling.

  • Xwcd Cxw

    yahoo!!! galeng galeng ni Pnoy…. nasugpo nya ang imaginary terrorist.
    parang video game lang, ano?

  • Loggnat

    ‘ A Catholic priest in charge of the procession admitted that the devotees
    displayed an “excess of fanaticism that needs to be corrected.” ‘ /// The Philippine Catholic Church praises and encourages the devotees for this same excess of fanaticism on church approved subjects. When the devotees ignores the church’s representative and refuses his order to cut short the route of the procession, the excess of fanaticism is not acceptable anymore and needs to be corrected. =))

  • m1600

    Security adviser of Pnoy must resign coz they dont not know what they are doing. 

    They violated every rules of intelligence and operation security. Remember  when DEVGRU  US navy seal group six  conducted operation against BIN LADEN it was a TOP SECRET opn only few in the the OBAMA circle knew the opn. Until now the US DEPT OF NAVY still could not deny nor confirm that it was the  NAVY SEAL six was responsible for OPN GERONIMO(BIN LADEN) in ABBOTAD Pakistan.

    In the Philippines Pnoy and his security adviser announced the terror plot on NATIONAL TELEVISION even before AFP and PNP raided their safe house. they even have kuno the names and pictures of the TERRORIST,  monitored their movement from MINDANAO to manila and yet BOKYA pa din! ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES di ba. Pnoy warning was not even heeded by the people, instead they poured to the procession meaning PNOY announcement was useless

  • DurangoJoe

    The best way to control terrorism is to tell them you are waiting for them. It is better if someone is watching over the devotees than no one. The end justifies the means. Glad it’s over.

    • m1600

      Wow! You never tell the terrorist that you will be waiting for them . What must be done is to strike them  before they commit any terror attack.

      • DurangoJoe

        Problem is you don’t know where they are. So how can you strike if you don’t know where they are? The point is not to create panic or worse stampede.

      • m1600

        It was Aquinos security officals who said that they monitored and have the identity of the terrorist eh di sana hinuli na lang nila then announce the capture di ba. Ochoa was given 300 million from intel funds of the OP nag create sila ng anti terrorist office under kay OChoa ang tanong saan ba nila ginagamit ang pera? yung mga info nila eh halatang pinulot lang sa basurahan.
        Kung hindi nila alam kung saan nagtatago ang mga terrorista its time to resign na. During Marcos time the entire hierarchy of the CPP/NPA were captured like sison,corpuz,dante, morales,satur ocampo, carolina malay ,kdr Bilog , EDGAR JOPSON was neutralized yung safe house nya may undr ground leading to a nearby house pero nakuha pa din kasi alam ng operating unit ang escape route nya  kung magtatarabaho lang sila baka may accomplisment pero the way the way i look at it NAMBOBOLA lang ang mga ito.

      • pangitbudhiko

        In the news conference called by abnoy and gazmain they said they have identified and know the terrorist safehouse. What should have been said in the news conference that we have gather intelegence information that the terrorist has plans to wreck chaos in the procession. No more information. Meanwhile if the intelengence community knows the identity and the safe house of the terrorist they should have conducted a military operation at the same time that the announcment is being broadcast live. Di ba magkakaruon ng maganda resulta. Masiyadong takaw sa media ang pamunuan ni abnoy

      • pangitbudhiko


  • Josefino

    Sabihin mo na P-noy, pa news conference ka pa.  Kala mo matatakot mo mga deboto para di pumunta sa prusisyon para masabi mong wala ng popularidad simbahan.  Pati pananampalatay ng tao dinadamay mo sa kabuwangan mo.  Do not test their faith.  It’s not about the Church.  It’s about their faith.

  • bong

    Beautiful skyline of Manila.

  • dequis

    kelan kaya mapapalitan ang religion ng education.

  • Francis81

    Pweenoy Bolero! Gawa gawa mo lang naman ang mga terror threats na yan
    dahil sa kagustuhan mong mag declare ng Martial Law at Revolutionary
    Government.  Pa thank you thank you ka pa! Akala mo di alam ng AFP at
    PNP ang tunay mong plano?  Kahit sinong tatanungin mo sa AFP at PNP
    kinamumuhian ka nila.  Ikaw ang laman ng mga usapan at pangungutya sa
    mga kampo.

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