Philippines gets ready for Holy Week

All police leave canceled in capital to protect millions gearing up for long holiday
Philippines gets ready for Holy Week

Holy Week officially starts on Palm Sunday with Filipino Catholics flocking to churches to have their palm leaves blessed. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Filipinos are all set for the observance of Holy Week this year, with authorities in the capital Manila deploying up to 11,600 police officers to secure bus terminals, airports, seaports, churches and other pilgrimage sites.

Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, head of the National Capital Region Police Office, said all leave had been canceled and that a full alert had been declared in the capital to protect travelers, although there have been no security threats reported so far.

"We have not received any threats to disrupt the Holy Week, but we will remain vigilant," said Eleazar.

Church leaders in Manila have also coordinated with the authorities to ensure the safety of people expected to troop to church during the week.

Last week, the Manila Police District conducted a bomb and shooting exercise in front of Manila Cathedral and at the San Agustin Church.

Monsignor Hernando Coronel, rector of the church in the city's Quiapo district, said it was in preparation for Holy Week observance.

"We want to appeal to devotees to be one with us in making the religious processions orderly," said Father Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of Quiapo Church.

The Department of Transportation announced that it has started new traffic schemes across the country to ensure a safe and convenient travel for travelers.

The Philippine Coast Guard has also deployed emergency response teams in case of maritime incidents even as the agency urged the public to "practice patience" and not to take overloaded boats.

While people living in Manila take advantage of the long holiday during Holy Week to go home to the provinces, the Philippine capital remains to be a top destination for the holidays because of its many churches and pilgrimage sites.

Holy Week in the Philippines is a significant religious observance for the country’s Catholic and Protestant population as many communities continue to observe Spanish-influenced rituals such as religious processions.

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