Tight Holy Week security begins
As the week-long Association of Southeast Asean Nations (Asean) Summit meetings in Cebu are about to end, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has turned its preparations to the Holy Week celebration next week.
Senior Supt. Joel Doria, director of the Cebu City police, said that about 1,300 policemen will be deployed to secure areas of convergence especially in the different churches and bus stations.
Not a single policeman will be allowed to take a leave during the Holy Week.
“We will mobilize all our policemen to ensure the safety of the public,” he said.
Doria said that policemen will be assigned in every church and bus station to attend to the needs of the public.
Cebu City policemen, Doria said, may also be sent to Bantayan Island to beef up police presence there as thousands of tourists are expected to converge in the area next week.
Although there are no specific threats to security, Doria called on the public to be vigilant.
“We should not be complacent. Be on guard at all times,” Doria said.
If family members choose to leave the house during the celebrations, Doria said they must ensure that their dwelling is secure and all appliances are turned off.
“If possible, let your neighbors guard your house while you are away,” Doria advised.
As security heightened in bus stations and other commuter areas, an unattended bag left in one of the food stalls at the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) caused a stir early morning on Thursday.
The indigo-colored traveling bag was left in a “lugawan” (porridge store) inside CSBT at around 6:32 a.m. by three persons including a woman.
Jonathan “Joy” Tumulak, security operations head of CSBT, said that based on the CCTV footage, the two men and the woman went inside the terminal through the entrance near the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and went to the food stall where they left the bag.
The woman talked to the attendant of the food stall and was shown, in the video, handing what looked like a bill.
Tumulak said they immediately called the Cebu City Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to check on the bag.
Based on the initial checking, the bag only contained clothes. It was brought to the SWAT office for further inspection and safe keeping.
CSBT authorities reprimanded the attendant for allowing the bag to be left and for even accepting payment for it.
Tumulak explained that it has long been CSBT policy not to allow food stalls and attendants to accept any luggage, including bags, boxes, and plastic bags to be left in their area.
Because it was the store’s first offense, Tumulak said their attendant only got a reprimand.
For the second offense, however, Tumulak said they may terminate the operations of the food stall inside the terminal.
Tumulak reminded the riding public to never leave unattended baggage inside the terminal to avoid causing unnecessary alarm.
The CSBT management is tightening security at the terminal especially with the coming Holy Week when thousands of people are expected to travel for the long weekend.
Holy Week schedule
Holy Week starts with the celebration of Palm Sunday on April 9 and ends with Easter Sunday on April 16.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma will celebrate the Holy Week liturgies at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
He will preside over Palm Sunday Mass at the cathedral at 8 a.m.
On Maundy Thursday, Palma will officiate the Evening Mass of the Lord’s last supper at 4 p.m.
The following day, Good Friday, the Siete Palabras or the reflections on the Seven Last Words of Jesus on the cross will be broadcast from the cathedral.
At 3 p.m., Palma will lead the celebration of the Lord’s passion and the veneration of the cross.
On Black Saturday, the 67-year-old prelate will lead the Easter Vigil that includes the blessing of the new fire and water, renewal of baptismal promises, and Mass of the Lord’s resurrection.
On Easter Sunday, he will lead the Easter Mass at 5 :30 a.m.
In an interview, Palma encouraged the faithful to attend the Holy Week activities in churches and ponder upon the passion and death of Jesus.
“Let us remember everything our Lord did for us to save us from eternal damnation,” he said.
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