Police identified the pastor as Alfred Caslam, founder of Word of God Spirit and Life Ministries Inc. with headquarters on Capistrano Street.
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Pastor nabbed for holding church service in CDO
Gerry Lee Gorit (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2020 - 12:00am

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — A pastor here was arrested by authorities after he conducted church service attended by hundreds last Sunday despite the ban on mass gatherings to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Police identified the pastor as Alfred Caslam, founder of Word of God Spirit and Life Ministries Inc. with headquarters on Capistrano Street.

Capt. Sebastian Chua, chief of the Divisoria police station, said his team arrested Caslam when they found out that he continued to hold church service despite warnings from law enforcers mandated to go after individuals or groups who defy government orders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chua said there were at least 500 church members who attended the service, including children, senior citizens and persons with disability.

He said Caslam violated Republic Act 13332 that requires persons to cooperate with authorities in the event of notifiable diseases or health events of public concern.

Violation of RA 13332 is punishable by one to six months and fine not exceeding P50,000.

Caslam said he did not expect the number of people who attended the service to reach that high, as he apologized for what had happened.

In fact, he said, they have complied with social distancing policy mandated by the government and arranged their seats with apprppriate space in between.

When more people kept coming into the church service, Caslam said there was nothing he could do about it.

Antonio Resma, head of the city’s Regulatory Compliance Board, said they have turned over the list of churchgoers to the city health office for contact tracing.

The health officers could later ask assistance from the barangay health emergency response teams to track down the people who attended Caslam’s church service and determine if any of them belong to the list of persons under investigation or persons under monitoring for COVID-19 infection.

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