Tagbilaran City police chief Lt. Colonel Oscar Boyles on Friday ordered the implementation of tighter security in the city as the Catholic faithful flock to different churches at the break of dawn for the traditional Simbang Gabi, or Misa De Gallo.
The traditional nine-day dawn Masses start on Monday and end on Dec. 24, or Christmas Eve.
According to Boyles, he directed his officers to increase visibility and roving patrols to secure churchgoers, some of whom walk to their nearest churches at dawn.
Police, including some who will be in plainclothes, will be deployed to deter petty thieves and pickpockets who often operate in crowded areas including in and around churches.
“Ang mga taw naa mana sa simbahan g’yud, pwedeng naay mga mangunguot, o mandurokot na mo anha siya para pansamantalahin yung pagkakataon, mo-gara,” Boyles said.
Police assistance desk will also be established in the “major” churches of city including the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish (K of C) and the Shrine of the Birhen sa Barangay, among others.
Pickpockets and petty thieves from outside the province have been previously monitored to enter and operate in the city in time for the Christmas holidays but Boyles said they have not yet recorded any rise in criminal activities.
“So far wala pang namonitor na hing abot diri sa Bohol, kay mao ni among gihisgutan na naa kunoy mo dayo gikan sa Cebu, sa ubang lugar para manguot lang pero so far wala pa miy namonitor based on our intelligence reports,” he added.
Attending dawn Masses or Misa De Gallo on days leading to Christmas Day has long been part of the Filipino Catholic tradition.
Although “Miss De Gallo” is often used to refer to the nine-day cycle, the term is believed to have only originally meant the Mass celebrated on Christmas Eve. (R. Tutas)