Saturday, 16 May 2020 15:22

Church urges IATF to clarify the guidelines on Modified ECQ

Most Rev. Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of Manila, has requested the Inter-Agency Tasks Force (IATF) to look into the national guidelines that will be implemented during the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ).

This is the Bishop's response to the confusion as to whom to talk with and make negotiations regarding the allowing of regulated religious gatherings. The bishop noted that according to IATF the Church should have close coordination with the Local Government Units (LGU) to secure permission to hold religious activities. But the LGUs, in turn, would respond to Church request that they have to follow the national directive. This causes confusion as to which authority the Church should approach to initiate dialogue.

“Kung gusto ng IATF ilagay nila sa General norms na depende sa mga LGU, kasi ang mga LGU kapag nilalapitan namin sabihin na hindi naman pwede kasi sinabi sa national na bawal muna [religious activities]. Wala namang guidelines sa national na depende sa LGU,” the bishop said during an interview on Radio Veritas.

Bishop Pabillo expressed his disappointment in the government's decision to gradually open commercial stores, malls, banks, and mining while holding back religious activities and even classified them among entertainment activities such as concerts and cinema.

The bishop emphasized that the Archdiocese of Manila had submitted a document proposing rules to IATF through the Department of Health. The Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, stated that he has not yet received the document.

The enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on Luzon and other parts of the country is supposed to be lifted on May 15. Yet, the government announced that the National Capital Region, Cebu and Laguna will be placed under a modified enhanced community quarantine on May 16 to May 31 because of the continued rise of cases of COVID-19, in spite of current quarantine measures.

Under the MECQ, the government allows individuals who have essential responsibilities in society and the economy to move around and be able to provide basic services to help in restarting the economy.

The Catholic Church hopes that the government would reconsider the request on allowing religious activities, as it promises to implement necessary measures and precautions like wearing facemask, frequent hand washing, establishing a ministry for sanitation and strict compliance to physical distancing to address the risk of spreading the virus. (Fatima Llanza and Jheng Prado/RCAM-AOC)


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