CEBU CITY, Philippines – At least more than Fifty-five thousand people paid their last respects to the late Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu, His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.

The scorching heat of the sun has failed to stop the thousands of Cebuanos and visitors alike in attending the Funeral Mass, Procession and Interment of the Prelate this Thursday morning, October 26.

Some people already lined up outside the gate of Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral since Wednesday evening. More people flocked early dawn time today before the gate opened at exactly 7AM. A strict security was implemented before they were allowed to enter the Cathedral Compound.

Before the Funeral Mass started at 9AM the crowd was estimated at 6,500 inside and within the vicinity of the Cathedral. At 10:30AM shortly before the Mass ended the crowd becomes bigger at 10,000.

During the procession and the interment, the crowd went bigger reaching to more than 55 thousand occupying the whole stretch of the procession offering prayers, sacrifices and farewell to the Cardinal.

At least the country's 3 living cardinals such as Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo graced the event together with more than 20 Bishops and 500 Priests from the different parts of the country.

Msgr. Gabriel Viola, the secretary of Papal Nuncio Gabriele Giordano also delivered the message of His Holiness Pope Francis to Cardinal Vidal.

Also in attendance were the bereaved Family and relatives of Cardinal Vidal from Mogpog, Marinduque where the Prelate originated and from other parts of the country.

In the meantime, the City Government of Cebu together with the Archdiocese of Cebu has set up an Incident Command Post (ICP) to ensure a safe and solemn burial of Cardinal Vidal. At least 1,232 volunteers checked-in in the ICP coming from the Cities of Talisay, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu and various organizations Cebu-wide.

At dawn time today, the Incident Management Team has implemented the Plan B for the activity which expanded the route of the procession reaching up the Colon Street anticipating the influx of people to attend the event.

The new route of the procession was from Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral turn right side to Burgos Street, right turn to Osmeña Boulevard, right turn to Jakosalem Street, right turn to Colon Street, right turn to Mabini Street, then right turn to the P. Gomez Street where the Cardinal was buried at the Burial Chamber of a Mausoleum located inside the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral Compound shortly before noontime.

Cardinal Vidal's remains was placed in a century-old carroza bedecked with flowers and candles for the funeral procession. A red velvet cloth was placed around the carroza symbolizing the rank of Cardinal Vidal in the church hierarchy.

The Prelate died due to septic shock on October 18, a week after he was rushed to the hospital due to fever and shortness of breath. He was 86.

Cardinal Vidal was appointed by Pope John Paul II as Coadjutor Archbishop of Cebu in 1981 before he became Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cebu on August 24, 1982, succeeding Cardinal Julio Rosales. He was buried beside the tomb of Cardinal Rosales.

Senior Supt. Joel Doria, director of the Cebu City Police Office, said the activity went smooth and peaceful with no bad incident reported all throughout the activity.

Doria said at least 524 policemen together with Barangay Tanods and Non-Uniformed Personnel and Intelligence Networks as force multipliers were deployed during the activity which were on prowl on bad elements.

Nagiel Bañacia, head of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office shared that no untoward incident occurred for the duration of the burial of Cardinal Vidal except for the reported 26 minor cases which were all medical-related concerns.

The City Government of Cebu, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 and Valiacar Corporation (Ceres Bus) offered free rides to everyone from different points in Cebu City to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

Moreover, Malacañan Palace thru president Rodrigo Duterte who personally attended the Prelate’s wake declares October 26 as a special non-working holiday in the entire Cebu Province including the Chartered Cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. The president mourns with the Cebuanos and announced for the holiday during his visit to allow Cebuanos to attend the burial of Cardinal Vidal. (By: Greggy P. SenadosCity of Cebu, Public Information Office)