Thousands Sto Nino devotees flock to Sinulog in Cebu City

CEBU CITY – The Cebu regional police said that the Sinulog events on Sunday went well with no major untoward incidents.

This is even as thousands of spectators converged for the celebration after two years of hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A report from Philippine News Agency quoted Brig. Gen. Jerry Bearis, Police Regional Office-Central Visayas (PRO-7) chief as saying the festivities were generally peaceful.

Barely a dozen incidents of pickpocketing were logged in the vicinity of the South Road Properties (SRP).

Sixteen contingents performed at the grand parade.

Mayor Michael Rama expressed gratitude to the performers from different groups, including two big hotels, despite the decision of 10 other contingents to back out due to venue preparation issues.

He said the enthusiasm of the Sinulog dancers to perform at the SRP, where the festival was held for the first time.

A drummer by passion, Rama boarded a float of the Cebu City government to play the drums while a troupe of performers danced to the Sinulog beat.

“Thank you, Sr. Sto. Niño and crowd control concerns, the organizers vowed for giving us a fair weather,” the mayor said.

This year’s celebration at the SRP, Rama said, gave the city government and the Sinulog Foundations Inc. (SFI) a benchmark for a more inclusive festival in the coming years.

Due to bad weather while preparations were ongoing, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia decided not to pursue performing her annual Sinulog dance ritual at the SRP.

Following Garcia’s pronouncement, 10 local chief executives backed out from the event, citing safety and health concerns of the performers.

On Monday, the winners in this year’s Sinulog will have a repeat performance at the Cebu City Sports Center.

Bearis said PRO-7 was able to establish a multi-sector command system to monitor the peace and order situation at the SRP grounds.

The regional police chief said the cops used an Israeli-inspired security system to catch pickpockets at the venue.

“These suspects were caught in our security cameras,” Bearis said.

Lt. Col. Ruel Jugalbot, deputy ground commander for the crowd control, said the Phillippine Army Reserve Command’s 7th Regional Community Defense Group and the 701st Community Defense Center deployed about a hundred Reservists and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets to keep watch at the Sinulog route.

“So far, the people are cooperative in our effort to make an orderly flow of the carousel dance performers,” he said.

The reservists also served during Saturday’s solemn foot procession of the Holy Image of the St. Sto. Niño around the uptown area and back to the 457-year-old Basílica Menor del Santo Niño de Cebu.