By LITO RULONA, NITZ ARANCON
and A.L. RICALDE
AUTHORITIES would be enforcing a liquor ban even as they would be monitoring and regulating drones in the city today as part of security measures ahead of the annual Feast of the Black Nazarene tomorrow.
Mayor Oscar Moreno has issued Executive Order 003-18 that would put in effect a two-day liquor ban in downtown Cagayan de Oro.
The order bans the sale and drinking binges within a 300-meter radius from the route of the Black Nazarene procession.
The ban takes effect at 5 pm today and it would last until 12 noon tomorrow.
Moreno also issued Executive Order 004-18 to strictly regulate the operation of aerial drones over 43 barangays in the city.
No unauthorized drone can be flown over Barangay 1 up to Barangay 40, Puntod, Lapasan and Consolacion from 5 pm today up to 12 noon tomorrow.
Based on the order, only those with a written permission from the city police director can fly drones.
Exactly how authorities would deal with unauthorized drones remains unclear but city hall spokesperson Maricel Rivera said authorities were prepared to stop these.
Chief Insp. Mardy Hortilloza, city police spokesman, said he was unauthorized to reveal details but added that there was a security plan for unauthorized drones.
Hortilloza said the security measures would be tighter than last year’s although the plan is based on what authorities implemented in the city in 2017.
“Na-a man goy mga security details nga dili nato mabutyag,” he said.
Police regional director Chief Supt. Timoteo Pacleb said the police would be flying drones in strategic areas so authorities can monitor movements of people on the ground.
“All possible counter-measures are being undertaken by joint security forces” from the police and the military, Pacleb said.
The liquor ban and the strict drone regulation begin this afternoon, about four hours ahead of the transfer of the statue of the Black Nazarene from the Nazareno church to the St. Augustine Cathedral where it would be kept overnight.
The replica, which is the only one of its kind in Mindanao, was given by the Quiapo Basilica to the local Roman Catholic Archdiocese.
It would be paraded in a two-kilometer procession starting at 5 am tomorrow. Authorities said the procession could last up to two hours from the St. Augustine Cathedral back to its home parish via Fernandez St., Velez St., to the Nazareno church on CM Recto Ave.
Moreno has also mobilized the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Department and tasked it to help in ensuring a smooth and orderly “traslacion”.
City police director Senior Supt. Robert Roy Bahian said authorities would be executing a very strict security plan because the number of people expected to take part in the annual Roman Catholic event increases the level of terrorism threat in the city.
“The level of terrorism threat in city is high although there is no direct threat to the procession itself,” Bahian said.
Authorities discouraged religious devotees from bringing backpacks, objects with sharp edges, valuables like jewelry, and even children.
Police said it would also go strict on people with jackets, hats and sunglasses.
“Walay bala-od nga magdili sa magdala sa maong nga butang pero kadtong magdala niini, amo gyud sila nga sitahon ug pangotan-on ug bantayan gyud namo ang ilang mga lihok,” said Chief Insp. Hortilloza.
Hortilloza said the procession is not the place for little children because of the crowd expected to reach 50 thousand to 80 thousand or even more.
Bahian said the military and the Coast Guard would help the police in stepping up security measures until tomorrow.
The City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Department would also go on alert throughout the day until tomorrow. It has prepared ambulances and emergency equipment especially during the procession. Its vehicles would be stationed along the procession route.
Chief Supt. Pacleb said the police would field the maximum number of police officers in strategic areas of the city. He said the police would also set up public assistance desks.
He said the police expect a high turnout of religious devotees here and from other cities and provinces.
Pacleb said authorities would also guard against petty criminals who may take advantage of the situation like robbers, pickpockets, snatchers, carnappers and motorcycle thieves, among others.
He said the police has been closely coordinating with the Army, Bureau of Fire Protection, Highway Patrol Group and other law enforcement and even private groups.
Hortilloza said the city police office has asked Camp Alagar and Camp Evangelista to deploy augmentation forces.
He said there would be many officers in plain clothes who would blend with the crowd.
The police, he said, would also make use of highly trained security dogs, Special Weapons and Tactics members, and bomb experts.
“Gi-kondisyon ta ang huna-huna sa katawhan nga magbinantayon sab sila. Kini man gud nga threat sige nila balik-balikon nga target ang Cagayan de Oro. We are now on Alert Level 5. Bisan unsa kagamay sa bomba nga ilang ipa-boto dako na kini og impact,” Hortilloza said.