The city government of Manila confirmed on Friday afternoon that the annual procession of the image of the Black Nazarene, commonly called “traslacion” (transfer or passage), next year is suspended for the second consecutive time.
Officials took into consideration the continuous threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, even as the number of infections is decreasing, in canceling anew the popular procession held every January 9.
“The celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene will be done through a motorcade in selected areas of the City of Manila,” a statement issued by the Manila Public Information Office (PIO) read.
Faye Orellana of the Manila PIO said the decision was made following a consultation dialogue among city government and Quiapo Church officials, led by Fr. Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or the Quiapo Church.
“The meeting was held yesterday (Thursday) and the decision to suspend the grand procession of the Black Nazarene next year was a mutual decision,” Orellana said in a statement.
In case Alert level 3 will be raised, there will be more consultations in December to craft new plans.
Representatives of the Manila Police District, Philippine Red Cross, Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, and Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau also attended the meeting.
Manila police chief, Gen. Leo Francisco, said a minimum of 8,000 police personnel will be deployed during the feast itself but the number may still be augmented, depending on the situation.
The traslacion, canceled for the first time this year, draws millions of devotees nationwide and from outside the country.
Some overseas devotees come home in time for the celebration to join the procession as part of their “panata” (vow) after receiving so-called miracles or answers to what they desribed as nearly impossible prayers.
The procession starts with the “pahalik” (kissing of the Nazarene) after which it will be paraded around the Quiapo District and taken back to the church.
In 2012, it took 22 hours for the Nazarene to get back to the church, finishing at past 5 a.m. the following day, after the carriage stumbled thrice.
Quiapo Church officials also reminded devotees they can still send their petitions through prayers and only the grand procession is suspended.