“PULITIKA pa more!”
This was how Manila Mayor Isko Moreno blasted certain quarters whom he said did not even spare from politics the supposed solemn occasion of the Feast of the Black Nazarene the other day, by making it appear on mainstream and social media that there were 400,000 devotees who gathered at a single place at one given time and that protocols were disregarded.
“Pulitika pa more. Atat kayo ha? Pag nalaman namin kung sino kandidato n’yong president, e peperwisyuhin din namin kayo sa Maynila… Nasaan po ung 400 thousand na sinasabi ng mga report? ‘Yung mga bayaran, nasaan?,” Moreno said, as he aired live on social media the ‘real time’ goings-on at the Quiapo Church and its vicinity, via cosed-circuit television footages which showed the disciplined devotees properly-distanced and calm while awaiting their turn to get a glimpse of the iconic image of the Black Nazarene placed at the balcony of the Minor Basilica or Quiapo Church and subsequently attend the mass inside.
Moreno said the self-discipline showed by the devotees and the dedication to duty of those who kept the occasion orderly made him very proud to be a Manilan himself. He particularly lauded the citizens of Manila, fellow city officials namely Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau chief Dennis Viaje, department of public services head Kenneth Amurao, assistant secretary to the mayor Letlet Zarcal, city engineer Armand Andres, Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office head Arnel Angeles, Metro Manila Development Authority officer-in-charge Bong Nebrija, Manila Police District chief Gen. Lo Francisco, PNP chief Debold Sinas and NCRPO Director Vic Danao, Jr. for all the hard work which ensured the success of the feast celebration while being totally orderly and peaceful.
According to Moreno, the total crowd estimate in the Quiapo Church vicinity during the City Hall’s 48-hour monitoring that ended at 12 midnight of Saturday was between 278,000 and 400,000, on a ‘’come and go’ fashion. Notably, in areas where no markers were placed for one to stand on and ensure proper distancing, the devotees had taken it upon themselves to do the measuring by stretching their arms forward and then sideways.
In batches, the devotees were made to move from one area to another where they patiently waited for two to three hours for their turn. The marshalls, called ‘hijos’ deployed by the Quiapo Church made sure that those who were done no longer lingered in the premises to make way for those awaiting their chance to get a glimpse at the Black Nazarene and attend mass.
“Grabe ang sakripisyo ng mga taga-Maynila. ‘Yung debosyon nila, ‘yung inawat namin…tandaan nyo, kultura, tradisyon namin..mga tao namin, resources. Eto (CCTV footages) di pwede magsinungaling kasi ‘live,’ kaya mamaya makikita nyo sa news, magulo. Kasi pag maayos, di balita. Dapat ibalita ‘yan kasi di pa ko pinanganganak, pag piyesta ng Quiapo, punong punong punong puno ng tao ang buong Maynila. Eto maganda, di picture, di mae-edit,” Moreno said.
“I’m so proud sa mga taga-Maynila kasi nakikiisa kayo sa panawagan ng pamahalaan. Kilala natin mga deboto very passionate ‘yan pero kinikilala nila panganib nakikinig sila sa panawagan ng pamahalaan. Nung araw ganitong oras puno ‘yan…ang tanging magpapatunay niyan ay mga mga taga-Maynila. ‘Yung mga di taga-Maynila, ‘yun ung ‘mema’… Hindi siya perpekto maliwanag na may gobyerno, may sistema at may kusang disiplina ang mga tao. ‘Yung nangangarap ng perpekto, wagas kayo.. walang perpekto sa buhay. Diyos lang ang perpekto,” the mayor added, as he lamented that some quarters shamelessly used the religious occasion to advance their political interests, to the detriment of those who sacrified a lot to make the affair successful while still fully complying with mandated health protocols.
The mayor said he decided to take the public to a tour of the city government’s command center live, via social media, after ‘fake news’ purveyors posted on social media pictures that were either photo-shopped or taken at an angle that would make it appear there were very huge crowds and that no distancing was observed.
He said the public must not be misled and deserve to know the truth while the devotees also deserve to be acknowledged for the sacrifices they took like no longer bringing replicas, lining up for hours and practicing constant, self-discipline by coming complete with face masks and face shield and properly distancing themselves from one another.
Compared to the usual attendance of three to four million every year with so many casualties, this year’s attendance of 400,000 at the most and within a 24-hour period resulted in zero casualty and a measly 37 injured, albeit minor, as of 7 p.m. where less than P10,000 were recorded to be in attendance.
“Dun sa mga pulitikong tolongges, manahimik kayo. ‘Wag nyong bastusin ‘yung pananalig ng tao. Una, wala na mga kayong nagawang matino sa taumbayan kumakapit na lang ang mga tao sa panalangin… maraming pulitiko diyan ginagahasa Maynila para paburan ‘yung pultika nila at magsabi ng pananakot sa mga tao,” the mayor stressed.