By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

BLACK NAZARENE. Priests begin the three-day blessing of replicas of the Black Nazarene outside the Quiapo Church in Manila on Dec. 27, 2022. The church and devotees will next prepare for the annual Feast of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9, usually attended by millions of devotees. (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – The National Capital Region-Central Luzon (NCR-CL) of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is on heightened alert from Saturday until Monday to conduct maritime safety and security operations in Manila Bay and Pasig River for the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

Coast Guard will patrol around the waters in Jones Bridge, MacArthur Bridge, Quezon Bridge, Ayala Bridge and the rear portion of the Quirino Grandstand.

Around 10 floating assets of the PCG will be used for the operation such as fast patrol boats, aluminum boats, rubber boats, rigid hull inflatable boats and ferry boats.

Commodore Hostillo Arturo Cornelo, PCG District NCR-CL commander, said aside from patrols, there will also be underwater inspections in these areas.

“Dalawang taon ding natigil ang tradisyong ito dahil sa pandemya, kaya inaasahan natin na dadagsa ang mga deboto para makibahagi sa mga aktibidad ng simbahan ngayong taon (This tradition was paused for two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic, that’s why we’re expecting an influx of devotees that will participate in the religious activities this year),” he said in a statement.

He said PCG personnel will be present during the overnight vigil at the Quirino Grandstand and the “walk of faith procession” towards Quiapo Church on Sunday.

The security officers are trained to respond to incidents related to terrorism, stampedes, fires and earthquakes.

A notice to mariners is set to be released to warn marine vessels of heightened inspections in these areas during the three-day period.

“Panawagan lang ‘ho sa ating mga kababayan, manatiling alerto sa lahat ng pagkakataon. Kung may mapapansing kahina-hinalang tao o bagay, ipagbigay-alam lamang po sa otoridad para agad po natin itong maaksyunan (We call on the public to remain vigilant. If you notice suspicious individuals or objects, let authorities know so we can respond immediately),” he said. (PNA)