Water cluster: all systems go for fluvial procession

NAGA CITY --- The pagoda carrying the image of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia will be towed by more than a hundred vessels manned by 200 voyadores as it cruises through the Naga river during the fluvial procession on Saturday, September 21.

The pagoda will also bear the image of the Divino Rostro after both revered icons are carried on the shoulders of barefoot men from the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral to the Danlogan (wharf) in Barangay Dinaga, waiting for them to be transferred to the pagoda that ends the nine-day novena or vigil for the Blessed Virgin and the Divino Rostro during their stay at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral.

With certain roads to be closed for the procession exactly 12:00 noon, the palanquin or andas carrying the image of Ina, as Bicolanos fondly call the regional patroness, will be escorted by her male devotees or voyadores and police patrol cars in a procession that takes more or less an hour to waiting pagoda along the Naga River.

“The police car will serve as sweepers of rowdy voyadores who force their way to get near or touch that andas of the miraculous Lady, says Police MSgt. Tobias S. Bongon, public information officer of the Naga City Police Office.

The police officer disclosed that 1,141 PNP personnel will be deployed for the event to implement crowd control. Some 213 of them are plainclothesmen from the intelligence unit tasked to conduct covert operations to ensure the public’s safety and security while 150 will pose as voyadores going along with the mammoth crowd of regular voyadores.

The number of policemen is aside from the number of personnel belonging to other uniformed services of the government like the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Philippine Army, the PNP-Maritime Group, the Philippine Air Force, and the Philippine Coast Guard, the lead agency of the water cluster and from which the incident commander is designated.

“Their [policemen] presence will remain constant even during the fluvial procession,” Bongon assured the media practitioners during last Tuesday’s press briefing.

The briefing was organized by the public information cluster headed by Allen L. Reondanga, head of the City Events, Protocol and Public Information Office (CEPPIO) of the city government of Naga.

Ensign Bernardo Pagador, district commander of Philippine Coast Guard in Bicol, said at least 30 floating vessels (aluminum and rubber boats) including 2 units of jet skis from different agencies under the water cluster will be deployed along Naga river ever ready to take a speedy course of action against any untoward incident and to ensure that the pagoda will sail smoothly throughout the one-kilometer fluvial procession.

Fr. Pablo Carpio, vice rector of Basilica Minore, said that an estimated 200 individuals, mostly members of the youth sector from different parishes and dioceses in the Bicol Region, will ride on the pagoda as the Catholic church declared 2019 as year of the youth.

Bongon said the public will be prohibited from stay on Tabuco, Panganiban, Colgante, and Magsaysay bridges to witness the procession. A composite team of 50 personnel from different agencies will be assigned in each bridge for safety and security purposes.

“All the four bridges will only accept pedestrians who need to cross to the other end of the bridge and emergency vehicles like PNP patrol cars, fire trucks and ambulance responding to emergency situations,” he said.

Fire Chief Inspector Manuel Ricafort, fire marshal of the Bureau of Fire Protection, here, said at least 10 fire trucks will be deployed in different areas covering the city’s two central business districts for easy and expeditious dispatch 24/7.