Malacañang on Thursday called on the temporary suspension of religious activities in areas that will be placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) beginning May 1.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the appeal following concerns from local officials and lawmakers about the planned resumption of religious activities in areas where GCQ will be imposed.
“Pinutakte po ako ng protests galing po sa governors and mayors sa mga area na nasa GCQ… Merong mga senador at kongresista din na nagsalita (I have been flooded with protests from governors and mayors residing in areas that will be placed under GCQ… There are also senators and congressmen who opposed [the resumption of religious activities]),” Roque said in a television interview.
Roque said there were mounting calls to suspend religious activities during the GCQ because such move would defeat the purpose of containing the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.
He agreed to the plan to suspend religious activities in areas under GCQ.
“Humihingi po ako ng paumanhin (I am apologizing),” Roque said. “Siguro po, huwag muna nilang ituloy dahil ang concern naman ay balido (Perhaps, we should stop it temporarily because the concern is valid).”
Roque’s latest statement came the same day he confirmed that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has allowed religious activities and essential work gatherings in areas under GCQ.
Roque, in a virtual presser earlier Thursday, said essential work and religious gatherings would be allowed as long as strict social distancing of at least two meters and use of face mask or other protective equipment are observed.
Roque, in his latest statement, said he would ask the IATF-EID on Friday to reconsider its decision on the resumption of essential work gatherings and religious activities.
“Dahil hindi naman tayo pwedeng magbing-bingihan sa mga protesta na ito, minabuti ko po na ibalik muli itong dalawang bagay na ito sa IATF-EID. Dahil meron naman pong pagpupulong ng IATF bukas maski holiday dahil May 1 (Because we cannot turn a deaf ear, I will raise with IATF-EID the protests about these two matters. There will be an IATF meeting tomorrow even if it’s holiday because May 1),” he said.
Enhanced community quarantine, which is more stringent than GCQ, will be imposed in Metro Manila; Central Luzon, except Aurora; Calabarzon; Pangasinan; Benguet; Iloilo province; Iloilo City; Bacolod City; Cebu province; Cebu City; and Davao City until May 15 to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
GCQ, on the other hand, will be implemented in areas not under ECQ from May 1 to 15.
The Philippines has so far recorded 8,488 confirmed Covid-19 infections, with 568 deaths and 1,043 recoveries. (PNA)