Devotees allowed near Traslacion carriage, says organizer
MANILA (UPDATE) - Devotees of the Black Nazarene are allowed to get near the rear-end of the carriage of the ebony-statue of Jesus Christ, one of its organizers said Thursday following complaints of tight police security.
Policemen guarded the carriage at the start of the procession until it reached Arlegui Street, according to Fr. Douglas Badong, vicar of Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, home of the 400-year-old statue.
Devotees, most walking barefoot in maroon and yellow shirts, jostle each year to touch the ropes pulling the carriage of the Black Nazarene or throw white towels to wipe the statue believed to have miraculous powers.
"Puwede naman silang sumampa, lumubid basta sa likuran lang 'yung dadaan. Nasanay lang kasi sila na kung saan nila gusto, 'yun. Ngayon nakaranas sila na may nagko-control kaya medyo nanibago sila," Badong told radio DZMM.
"Mas mahigpit lang ngayon, dati kasi barabara, kaniya-kaniyang direksyon. Ngayon, di naman sila pinagbabawalan, basta dun lang sila sa likuran, kasi bukas naman po."
The Philippine National Police, in a statement, urged Metro Manila policemen to exercise "maximum tolerance and tight security" until the end of the procession.
"We understand how some devotees feel frustrated for not being able to show their devotion the way they traditionally used to do it due to tight security," it said.
"This change in security measures was disseminated way ahead of time through the media and also during the planning and rehearsals. We appeal to all devotees to remain calm, continue to cooperate and not harm the police security detail."
This year's Traslacion is expected to conclude faster because of the shorter route compared to the 2019 gathering that lasted 21 hours and attracted some 4 million people.
The Black Nazarene is expected to return to its home in Quiapo at 6 p.m. Thursday, Badong said, after some 14 hours of procession.
"Sana makabalik ng alas-6 ng gabi kung mananatili 'yung kaayusan at disiplina," he told DZMM in a separate interview.
"Maraming deboto 'yung may pasok ngayon. 'Pag naabutan kami, dodoble 'yung bilang ng tao. Sa mga papunta pa lang, sana po tumulong po na mas maging maayos nitong taon."