While he shares the sentiment of the religious sector with regard to limitations in church gatherings, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said protocols under general community quarantine (GCQ) should nevertheless be followed.
Guevarra was responding to the statement of Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo bewailing the maximum limit of mass attendees to only 10 when the previous GCQ allowed to have 10 percent of the church capacity.
In a text message to Bishop Mylo Hubert Claudio Vergara of the Diocese of Pasig City which he shared to media, Guevarra said: “I fully share your sentiments. We just have to continue living our lives with the COVID virus as an unwanted part of it. We just have to deal with it and continue to protect ourselves.”
“You are correct when you pointed out that there has been no progressive movement in respect of opening our churches. We got to 50 percent in MGCQ areas and 10 percent in GCQ areas,” Guevarra added.
The Justice secretary said the National Capital Region (NCR) reverted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) for two weeks upon the urgent plea of our medical workers.
But now that the NCR, according to Guevarra, has de-escalated to GCQ, the Metro Manila mayors wanted a strict type of GCQ “ so religious worship and other mass gatherings were kept at 10 pax maximum.”
However, outside NCR, maximum religious attendance follows the standard 10 percent rule in GCQ areas.
Guevarra said that much as he would like to have a progressive and continuous movement, public health considerations bear heavily on the Inter-Agency Task Force decisions.
“Bishop, thank you for your patience and understanding,” he said.
To recall, the local chief executives of Metro Manila have recommended tweaking the guidelines on the reopening of businesses and mass gatherings if the region eases back to general community quarantine.
All 17 mayors of Metro Manila held a meeting with officials of the COVID-19 task force on the eve of President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement on the fate of the country’s community quarantines.