2,144 cops to form ‘andas wall’
MANILA, Philippines — A wall of policemen will separate the andas bearing the image of the Black Nazarene from devotees during the “Traslacion” on Thursday, according to National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Police Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas.
Sinas said on Monday that the “andas wall” as he referred to it, would be composed of 2,144 policemen to be positioned in front of and on both sides of the carriage bearing the statue.
The back portion of the andas, however, would be left open to allow devotees to get near the Black Nazarene.
To ensure the safety of millions of people expected to join the annual procession, the NCRPO said that it would be deploying over 16,000 policemen and soldiers along the procession route.
Sinas told reporters that 13,572 policemen, in addition to around 3,000 Army personnel, would be assigned to secure areas starting from Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church.
“Policemen will also be stationed inside Quiapo Church and around the premises. We have informed Philippine National Police officer in charge [Police Lt. Gen. Archie] Gamboa about the deployment,” he said.
At the same time, Sinas stood firm on his decision to allow the installation of barbed wires on the steel railings of Ayala Bridge despite the apprehension of netizens that it would put devotees at greater risk.
“Once the andas reaches Ayala Bridge, it is highly likely that devotees will climb on the beams. If they do that, there’s a possibility that they could fall or jump onto the platform,” he said.
Eduardo Santos of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), however, assured the public that the barbed wires would not be able to injure anyone unless they were to deliberately climb on the bridge’s beams. He said the barbed wires would be installed 2.44 meters (8 feet) above the bridge’s floor.
Members of the Quiapo Church’s technical working group also asked devotees for understanding over the tightened security on Ayala Bridge since it stood in close proximity to Malacañang.
This year’s Traslacion, or the procession of the image of the Black Nazarene from Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church, would follow a shorter route of 6.16 kilometers. It would also pass through Ayala Bridge instead of Jones Bridge.
The DPWH earlier advised against allowing the procession to traverse Jones Bridge due to its high risk of collapse as millions of devotees were anticipated to attend the largest religious gathering in the country.
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