Monday, January 22, 2018

By: Boy Ryan B. Zabal

            Merrymakers and visitors will undergo multiple layers of security check before they could enter the designated Ati-Atihan festival zones in Kalibo, Aklan.

            Acting Aklan police director Senior Superintendent Lope Manlapaz said security is tight as thousands of revelers are expected to converge in the main streets of Kalibo, church and festival venues for the traditional street dancing and devotion to Senor Sto. Nino de Kalibo.

            This week, the Ati-Atihan Site Task Group established 19 police assistance centers in strategic areas in primary and secondary festival zones and staging areas. The task group is aiming for 'zero' major incident for the weeklong Ati-Atihan celebration, Manlapaz stressed. Around 700 additional uniformed policemen from Police Regional Office Western Visayas will be deployed in the streets and police assistance centers to augment the local security officers.

            Manlapaz said the last batch of augmentation forces will have their send-off ceremony at ABL Sports and Cultural Center in Kalibo prior to full security deployment on January 18. Checkpoints for inner border security in Numancia, Banga and Pook (Kalibo) are also set up by the Philippine National Police and Philippine Army before vehicles could enter the town of Kalibo.

            Kalibo police chief Senior Police Inspector Honey Mae Ruiz said pedestrian screening areas are also implemented by the security forces near the festival zone. “Ito ay ginagawa natin para sa security ng Ati-Atihan. Ang mga pulis na naka-assigned sa pedestrian screening areas ay magsasagawa ng inspections sa mga bags at backpacks sa pumapasok sa festival zone,” Ruiz said during the security briefing. 

            Fire trucks of the Bureau of Fire Protection will be redeployed in festival zones and staging areas to respond to fire calls, according to Kalibo Fire Marshall Fire Senior Inspector Sidgie Gerardo.

            Emergency rescue responders and force multipliers are also deployed 24/7 for emergencies. Ruiz also reminded motorists and the public to refrain from leaving their vehicles inside and outside the festival zones. Traffic rerouting plan is also implemented from January 15 to 21, she added./MP
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