Catholic bishop slams govt order vs Holy Week activities

SAYING that it was done without consultation, a ranking official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has strongly criticized the directive of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) banning all religious activities outside of churches during the Holy Week amid a spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.

Kalookan Bishop Virgilio David, vice-president of the CBCP, the policy making body of the Catholic Church, said on Wednesday that the religious organizations were never consulted also before the IATF came out with its ruling.

“It is vague. Be clear about your rules. Secondly, when you make your own rules, please consult the persons and the institutions involved,” David said.

He noted that while activities outside of churches were prohibited, it allowed outside dining for restaurants.

David also questioned the ruling of the IATF that allowed gyms to operate up to 75 percent capacity and spas up to 50 percent while churches were only allowed a maximum 10 percent capacity.

However, the Metro Manila Council (MMC) on Tuesday passed Resolution 21-05, which was signed by all city and municipal mayors in the National Capital Region and Metro Manila Development Authority, suspending the operation of gyms, spas and internet cafes until April 4.

Malacañang on Sunday placed Metro Manila under a stricter general community quarantine, wherein religious gatherings are banned. Weddings, baptisms, and funerals are allowed but only 10 people can gather at a time.

Also covered by the restrictions are the nearby provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Cavite and Bulacan and will run from March 22 to April 4.

The government issued the order ahead of the Holy Week, when many people tend to travel to provinces.

On Tuesday, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, came out with a three-page pastoral instruction that all traditional Catholic celebrations would be observed during the Holy Week.

He clarified though that only 10 percent of the church capacity would be allowed in compliance with health protocols, while religious activities outside of churches, like senakulo, pabasa, processions, motorcades, and visita iglesia, would be disallowed.