Christ statue procession in Philippines draws throngs of devotees

Huge Philippine procession secured tightly amid terror fears

MPD Director Joel Coronel and Monsignor Hernando "Ding" Coronel, rector of Quiapo Church, led the inspection from Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park to P. Burgos Street.

Officials have ordered a gun ban in the city of Manila from January 8 to 10 for the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada suspended classes and city government work for Tuesday, January 9, when devotees will mark the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

Hundreds of devotees join the first Black Nazarene procession in San Fernando, La Union Tuesday afternoon.

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Devotees pulled on stout ropes to move the carriage forward as the procession drew more than half a million people wearing maroon and yellow shirts and waving towels while chanting "Viva" ("Long live"), Manila police said.

"The procession will not pass through Lagusnilad overpass to ensure the safety of the devotees", Coronel said.

"Let us become ecological stewards like how we protect the image of the Black Nazarene during the procession", said the priest.

The Philippines is Asia's Catholic bastion with a flock of more than 80 million.

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Coronel said devotees who would jump over the Jones Bridge would be arrested.

Thousands of policemen and soldiers were deployed to ensure security. It will cover a 500-metre radius from the procession route, the Quirino Grandstand and Quiapo Church.

Fr. Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of the Quiapo Church said they are "100 percent ready".

This year's Traslacion, or the reenactment of transfer of the Black Nazarene from Intramuros to the Quiapo Church, took about the same time as 2017's procession.

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There would be slight changes in the procession route to speed up the traslacion.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, newly appointed commander of the military's Joint Task Force in the National Capital Region, said the military has always considered the possibility of a terrorist attack on the yearly feast. The traslacion also introduced 12 prayer stations along the new route.

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