Cebu police move to secure Sinulog Festival

1/10/10 - CEBU CITY, Philippines -- The Cebu police have heightened their security alert in Metro Cebu to ensure the peaceful celebration of the Sinulog Festival that kicked off Sunday.
The police said they have been bracing for a surge in attempts at robbery and theft, as well as other petty crimes, due to the huge crowds of devotees and tourists expected in the week-long activity.
Senior Superintendent Patrocinio Comendador Jr., chief of Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said 1,800 policemen from the CCPO and other units in Cebu, excluding military personnel from the Cebu-based Central Command (Centcom) and civilian volunteers have been instructed to secure the areas where cultural and religious activities would be held to celebrate Sinulog.
The feast is usually celebrated every third Sunday of January in honor of Cebu's spiritual patron, the Señor Sto. Niño (Child Jesus).
Major Wilson Feria, Centcom spokesman, said they would deploy around 500 militarymen, 4,000 student cadets and one thousand reservists to handle the crowds during the festival that would culminate with a street dance parade on Jan 17.
The Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) has also been conducting checkpoints in the province.
Comendador said security personnel were divided into eight sectors, with each sector being composed of a police supervisor, medical team, and crowd control unit along the Sinulog parade route.
Security forces will also be deployed during the solemn procession in honor of the Sto. Niño and the fluvial parade along Mactan Channel, both of which will be held on Jan. 16.
The police are on alert against petty criminals.
Insp. Pablito Sarno, officer-in-charge of the Carbon police station, which had under its jurisdiction most of the downtown area including Carbon market, the city's main public market, said that all pension houses operators in his area have been alerted and given tips for the safety of the guests.
The police have so far nabbed one of four pickpocket suspects from Basilan who tried to victimize an American tourist.
His three companions eluded arrest when police raided their rented room at a downtown pension house in the early hours of Saturday.
Richard Manala, 40, was arrested by traffic police and bystanders past 6:30 p.m. on Saturday after he ran off with the wallet of a tourist who was waiting for a taxi ride along Natalio Bacalso Street.
Manala later confessed to the police that his three other companions were staying at downtown pension house but they were already gone when the police arrived.
Senior Supt. Michael Anthony Bastes, thief and robbery section chief of the CCPO, said Manala's group arrived here just to take advantage of the Sinulog celebration
(Inquirer)

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