MORE than half a million individuals are expected to visit the various pilgrimage sites in Northern Mindanao, especially in Misamis Oriental, during the Holy Week, a tourism official said Saturday.
The Divine Mercy shrine in Barangay Ulaliman, El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental, is projected to have the most number of visitors, provincial tourism officer Jeffrey Saclot said.
Last year, more than 200,000 devotees visited the shrine’s 50-foot statue of Jesus Christ, the most prominent structure at the Divine Mercy Hills, and the figure is seen to increase this year, Saclot said.
The statue is considered as one of the tallest religious structures in the region.
Aside from the Divine Mercy site, devotees will also visit the Our Lady of Lourdes Church, known for its “healing pool,” in Binuangan town; the Sipaka Heights in Talisayan town; and soon-to-be finished Christ the King Shrine in Gingoog City; and Medina town where “Hinuklog” (reflection), a street play depicting the passion of Jesus Christ, will be held on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
In the city, two pilgrimage locations are expected to draw in Roman Catholics: the “via cruzes” (station of the cross) in Malasag, Barangay Cugman, and Guadalupe in Barangay Tablon.
The “Panaad” (vow) is one of the reasons why Camiguin’s tourists swell during the summer. Already practiced for decades, devotees walk around the island’s 64-kilometer circumferential road as part of their annual penance.
Meanwhile, the police regional office said in a statement that they are on full alert in time for the Holy Week.
Brig. Gen. Timoteo Pacleb, police regional director, said he has ordered unit commanders all over the region to “strategize deployment” of officers in areas of convergence and commercial centers such as terminals, airports, seaports, highways, malls, resorts, churches, and other sites to ensure the “tranquil observance of the [Lent].”
“We will continue to undertake preemptive measures against terrorist attack while keeping our watch against other form of criminalities prevalent during the [Holy Week],” Pacleb said, adding that they have intensified the presence of mobile forces within the regional police’s jurisdiction.
“We continue to strengthen our intelligence coordination and monitoring with other government agencies to prevent untoward incident during the holiday,” he said.
The police official has also encouraged the participation of “force multipliers” and public safety volunteers from government and nongovernment organizations to help the law enforcers.
For his part, Lt. Col. Surki Sereñas, police regional spokesperson, has urged the public to refrain from posting their vacation plans and routine activities on social media.
“We should be very cautious because criminals are also active [on] social media. They have leveled up to look for likely victims in the internet. Let us deny them the opportunity to commit crime through responsible use of [social networking sites],” Sereñas said. (PNA)