Manila police establishes ‘incident command system’ for Feast of Black Nazarene

MANILA — The Manila Police District (MPD) has established an incident command system (ICS) to secure the more than one million devotees who will join the procession of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9, its director, Sr. Supt. Joel Coronel said Tuesday.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has ordered the 4,995-strong MPD to double its security preparations for the annual religious activity, especially after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recently warned that the Maute terror group could send members to Metro Manila to launch diversionary attacks.

“We have made all the proper preparations and final coordination with different agencies involved in the Traslacion. We can say we are ready to deal with emergencies,” Estrada said.

Maute, whose main body is being pursued by the military in Butig, Lanao del Sur, was believed to be responsible for the town fiesta bombing in Hilongos, Leyte on Dec. 28 where 32 people were wounded.

The ICS is a standardized on-site management system that enables effective and efficient incident management by integrating facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating under a common organizational structure. It is used to manage an incident or a non-emergency event and can be used for both small and large situations.

Coronel said the composition of the ICS, as mandated by Republic Act 10121 or “The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010”, has been filled up and all coordination and preparations have been completed.

“We have established our incident command system and our contingency preparation, nag-i-improve pa tayo (we are improving) over time, getting better every year and hopefully, this is not the last of the series of adjustments,” Coronel said, adding that coordination meetings for the Feast of the Black Nazarene began as early as July last year.

“Our coordination is better than ever with different agencies, with the rescue management office, the Department of Health, Department of Public Works and Highways, Metro Manila Development Authority, Philippine National Police and private organizations like the Red Cross,” he added.

Coronel pointed out that each member of the ICS has been assigned specific tasks to do during the event, such as command and control, public safety, crowd control, emergency health response, and planning and logistics, among others.

The MPD chief estimated that about 15 million devotees will participate in the six-day celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene, including 1.5 million to two million who will be joining the procession.

“We expect an increase in attendees for this year. If the number last year was around 12 (million), we’ll go with about 15 million this year at the very least, for the six-day Black Nazarene celebration, including those who usually attend mass at the church,” Coronel said.