Sinulog 2023 opening draws 300K Sto. Niño devotees - TrueID

Sinulog 2023 opening draws 300K Sto. Niño devotees

Philippine News AgencyJanuary 5, 2023

CEBU CITY – After two years of strict protocols amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of devotees who participated in the opening activities of Sinulog 2023 on Thursday doubled, the police and the Augustinian Friars said.

Col. Ireneo Dalogdog, Cebu City police director, said based on their assessment together with the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the number of devotees who showed up for the religious event was estimated at around 300,000.

The Penitential Walk with Jesus and the first-day Novena Mass were held at dawn in honor of the Sr. Sto. Niño to mark the start of the 458th Fiesta Señor.

Dalogdog said there is no untoward incident reported during the opening, praising the police personnel who secured the penitential walk from the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.

Fr. John Ion Miranda, the secretariat of the 2023 Fiesta Señor, also said he observed that the number of devotees who went inside the 457-year-old Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño also doubled to 35,000.

“Tan-aw namo ni-doble o ni-triple gyud ang mga tawo karon. Wala kitay estimate sa kadto nangapil sa penitential walk. Apan diri lang sulod ug sa gawas, ni-triple gyud as compared to last Fiesta Señor (We observed the number of people has doubled or tripled. We do not have an exact estimate for those who participated in the penitential walk. But just inside and outside the church, it really tripled as compared to the last Fiesta Señor),” Miranda said.

At the height of the pandemic, the Augustinian Friars strictly implemented the protocols such as limiting the number of churchgoers that could get in to ensure distancing.

While wearing a face mask has been optional in this capital city, many of the devotees are opting to use it, even as the Augustinian Friars emphasized in their announcements the observance of the health protocols.

Security measures

Brig. Gen. Jerry Bearis, regional director of the Police Regional Office-Central Visayas (PRO-7), said during a forum the police have established strict security measures to ensure a peaceful Sinulog 2023.

This year's celebration has two components – the Grand Parade organized by the city government of Cebu through the Sinulog Foundation and the Fiesta Señor that comprises the nine-day novena Masses and the fiesta concelebrated Masses on Jan. 15 (Sunday), the fluvial procession, and the solemn foot procession on the "visperas" Saturday.

Bearis said they deployed about 2,000 police personnel while other law enforcement agencies such as the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be sending their contingents to help secure the Sinulog.

“We have precautionary measures purposely crafted for this occasion. We are very happy that other agencies that we are coordinating with are well-versed in doing the tasks that are assigned to them,” Bearis said.

Dalogdog said the city police received an augmentation force from the city police of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Cebu province.

He said devotees are prohibited from carrying bladed weapons, alcoholic drinks, backpacks, illegal drugs, unauthorized pyrotechnics, explosives, combustible substances and lighters while in the venue.

He said of the 1,200 city police personnel, only 60 percent were deployed for the Sinulog while the remaining force was charged to continue the anti-criminality campaign.

Signal jam, gun ban

Bearis told reporters that they are recommending to the National Telecommunications Commission jamming the cell phone signal but it will be up to the agency whether to implement the network interference only on Sinulog day or during every major event.

Dalogdog said the cops are also instructed to clear the roads of four-wheel vehicles and motorcycles parked near the venue of Sinulog events.

Bearis said the Philippine National Police has approved his request to impose a ban on bringing guns “within the jurisdiction of the Central Visayas”.

He said the gun ban that includes suspension of permit to carry outside residence, which started on Jan. 5 and will end on Jan. 20. (PNA)

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