ZAMBOANGA CITY, March 30 — All is set for the observance of the Semana Santa or Holy Week in all religious places in this city.
Police Deputy Director for Administration and Operation, Chief Operation Branch Sr. Supt. Hado Edding said that some 200 police personnel plus 80 others from the Regional Police Command will be deployed in the different churches, AbongAbong Park and other religious areas to ensure the safety of the people.
Edding said that the local police will be in full force although soldiers of Task Force Zamboanga will be deployed in the city.
While masses and other rituals will be done in churches, the main attraction to the observance will be a campout at Abong-Abong Park, just adjacent to Pasonanca Park, some seven kilometers from city hall.
Exodus to the park will begin on Monday and people will stay camped in the area until Black Saturday.
In 1984, then City Mayor Cesar Climaco constructed and carved out the 14 Stations of the Way of the Cross or Via Crucis" from the side of a hill where devotees can conduct the ritual.
The Abong-Abong Way of the Cross starts from the base of the park and climbs up to a steep incline towards the side of the granite mountain known as Pulong Bato.
People by the thousands camp out at the park as they do the ritual of the 14 stations on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
Mayor Celso Lobregat has reissued two executive orders that bans the entry of public utility vehicles into Abong-Abong Park.
Except for ambulances and police cars, Abong-Abong Park will be a walk-in park and other vehicles will be allowed only up to Kilometer 6 or Pasonanca Park starting April 1 to 9.
Bladed weapons, guns and liquor will also be banned in the area.
As this developed, Edding informed the people that the local police authorities, in close coordination with the other line enforcement agencies, are doing their best to ensure tranquility and order in the observance of the Holy Week.
The City General Services Office is also putting up makeshift toilets and portalets (portable toilets) at the park.
Power lines are also being extended into the 123-hectare site to provide current to park users during the Holy Week.
General Service Officer Engr. Rene dela Cruz said his office will also put up tents where the general public may seek shelter from rain and sun.
Makeshift stores are already being constructed at the Park since Monday.
Pasonanca Barangay Chairman Jun Julian said no permits will be required for these eateries that will be set up in the area provided that the store owners will help keep the area clean. (PNA) scs/FMS/mec