MANILA - Millions of devotees are expected to join the procession of the Black Nazarene from the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park to Quiapo Church.
The image left Quirino Grandstand past 8 a.m. after being stalled as the swarm of people made it difficult to move the Black Nazarene to the carriage.
Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno said an estimated one million devotees arrived at the Quirino Grandstand for the start of the procession. The crowd is expected to swell to 5 million by noon as it makes its way to the church.
Officials estimate the image will reach Quiapo Church in 12 to 15 hours. In 2012, the image took 22 hours to reach the church.
Moreno said rerouting due to the fire on Escolata Street delayed the procession by 30 minutes to an hour.
He said they placed cement roadblocks along the procession route as barriers.
The vice mayor is urging devotees to follow the route and avoid MacArthur Bridge.
Manila officials are aiming for zero casualty in this year's procession.
Moreno said medical teams and equipment are on standby while hospitals in the area are prepared to treat injuries.