WATCH | JTF-NCR cranks up preparedness as Traslacion draws near


MANILA – Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR), the military contingent assigned to support the Philippine National Police (PNP) in securing Tuesday’s “Traslacion” or the Procession of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, is all set to deploy its full array of capabilities for ensuring a safe observance of the religious tradition.

“Our forces are all geared up, from crowd disturbance management to humanitarian assistance and disaster response to counter-terrorism, with the designation of relevant combat forces and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) reservists,” JTF-NCR commander Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado said before the weekend.

Arrojado added that the counter-terrorist unit will be augmented by elite forces coming from the major services of the AFP.

JTF-NCR has tasked a battalion-sized formation, or about 500 troops, “for the mission of protecting Metro Manila from all forms of threats, including terrorism.”

Devotee holds up replica of the image of the Nazarene outside Quiapo Church after the First Friday Mass on Jan. 5. Photographed by EDD GUMBAN / PHIL. STAR

This early, according to Police Director Oscar Albayalde of the PNP National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), “there is already a preliminary skeleton deployment. The activities are picking up. People and visitors are increasing. There will eventually be 5,613 police officers on duty, including the vice squads and plainclothes lawmen, one company from the Police Special Action Force, K9 teams, sharpshooters and explosive ordnance units. All units are at ready status. Everything is taken care of.”

There will also be a Gun as well as Liquor Ban period, and a declared NO-FLY-ZONE over the area in and around the Traslacion route.

Various security measures will come into full play on January 8, a day before the Traslacion, to last until Jan. 10.

Albayalde said that, for good measure, police would be conducting random checks on persons carrying backpacks, and security units will be on the lookout for possible so-called “lone wolf” attacks.

There will be 23 medical stations, 65 ambulances, and 15 rescue boats to lend assistance during the Traslacion.