Tuesday, January 19, 2021

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To avoid the traditional rush of Filipinos to cemeteries this coming All Souls’ and All Saints’ Day, mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR) are eyeing the closure of all private and public cemeteries for one week in the region.

In a virtual presser on Monday, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Arturo “Jojo” Garcia said the Metro Manila Council (MMC)—composed of NCR mayors and officials of the MMDA—has recommended the one-week closure to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infections Diseases (IATF-EID).

“Unanimously, pumayag lahat ng mayors na isara. Na ang pinag-uusapan na lang yung dates. Ang request ng karamihan ay gawing one week (Unanimously, all mayors agreed to close all cemeteries. What needs to be decided now is when. Most of them asked for a week of closure),” Garcia said.

The reason for the extended closure, he said, was to ensure that people do not flock to cemeteries during Undas.

“Kasi kapag masyadong malapit din, let’s (say) October 31 and November 1 lang natin isasara, definitely yung October 30 and November 2 mapupuno yan (Because if we only close on October 31 and November 1, people will surely flock cemeteries on October 30 and November 2),” Garcia said.

Instead of visiting cemeteries to pay respect to the dead, he said NCR mayors and the IATF-EID are instead recommending the public to stay at home and pray for their departed loved ones.

“Iba ang situation natin ngayon, may pandemic tayo, that’s why sabi din ng mga mayors natin at IATF-EID members, pwede muna natin sila ipagdasal muna sa bahay, or sa simbahan (Our situation now is different, there is a pandemic. That’s why our mayors and IATF-EID members said we should pray at home or in a church),” Garcia said.

For those who make a living by selling flowers, candles, and other goods in cemeteries during Undas, he said they will be allowed to sell during the days before and after the closure of cemeteries.

“Sabi ng ng isang mayor natin, mas madali, mas madami sila magiging benta kung iengganyo natin na staggered ang pagpunta doon (As one mayor said, it will be easier and they will sell more if we encourage people to visit cemeteries in small numbers and in intervals),” Garcia said.

However, he warned the public to limit their visits as mass gathering will not be allowed before and after the closure of cemeteries.

“Pinagbabawalan pa rin natin yung madamihan, mass gathering. At least scheduling tayo. Or maybe the family can go there, leave flowers and candles, then uwi ng bahay (We’re still prohibiting mass gatherings. We should schedule visits, maybe the family can go there to leave flowers and candles then go home),” Garcia said.

He said the decision on whether to extend the closure of cemeteries beyond NCR would come from the IATF-EID.

“Iiwanan namin sa wisdom ng IATF-EID yan kung ano man yung instruction nila. But definitely sa NCR po iclo-close yan at least ng one week (We leave this to the wisdom of the IATF-EID. But definitely we’ll close cemeteries in NCR for at least one week),” Garcia said. (PNA)

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