Security tight as 1 million Filipino Catholics join annual procession
January 11, 2016
An estimated 1 million Filipino Catholics joined in the procession in Manila celebrating the feast of the Black Nazarene on January 1.
The annual procession, which is always a boisterous and emotional event, took place this year under heavy security. About 5,000 police and military guards were assigned to cover the procession, along with bomb-sniffing dogs and surveillance drones. The security arrangements reflected concerns about the heightened risk of Islamic terrorism in the Philippines, where Muslim separatists are struggling for autonomy in the Mindanao province.
The image of the Black Nazarene, reportedly brought to the Philippines by Spanish missionaries in the 17th century, is believed to have miraculous powers. Each year during the processions of the image—which take place on January 9 and on Good Friday—tens of thousands of people press to touch the image.
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