LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 7 (PNA)--The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol has deployed a battalion of policemen to assist in securing around a million Catholic devotees expected to flock to Naga City to honor Bicol’s patroness, the Virgin of Peñafrancia, a ranking police official said Wednesday.
Sr. Insp. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5), said Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, PRO5 director, led the send off ceremony on Wednesday at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola, PRO5 headquarters.
Calubaquib said 500 policemen from various police units would help the existing police force in Camarines Sur maintain security during the week-long religious event from Sept. 9 to 18.
She said the deployed policemen would assist the Naga City Police Office in ensuring a peaceful and orderly celebration of the Peñafrancia Festival, an annual religious event in the Bicol.
“The deployment of a battalion of policemen would prevent lawless elements from taking advantage of the festivity by sowing possible atrocities that would mar the religious event,” Calubaquib said.
She said additional police force would also be fielded to secure vital installations such as power and communication facilities, and hold checkpoints and police patrols in areas near various churches, malls and transport terminals.
The Peñafrancia festival would start with the "Traslacion" on Friday, wherein the image of “Ina,” as the virgin is fondly called, would be transferred from the Basilica to the Naga Cathedral where the Ina would stay for a week.
During the Traslacion procession, thousands of male devotees with red headbands and on barefoot would carry the "Ina" mounted in a pagoda.
During "Ina’s" stay, parishioners would hold daily masses and novenas.
The Bicol religious fest would end and be highlighted by a fluvial procession on Sept. 17, where the Ina image would be carried in a pagoda on its return journey to the Basilica Minore, where a pontifical mass would be held. (PNA) FPV/GVR/MSA/CBD