With all masses in most Churches gone virtual through social media, NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas said they would not accept excuses offered by those caught violating the quarantine.
Miguel De Guzman
Day of prayer today; Holy Week gatherings banned
Neil Jayson Servallos (The Philippine Star) - April 8, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — All Holy Week rites that involve mass gatherings or those that require the faithful to go outside their homes would not be allowed, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said yesterday, urging the public to pray and reflect instead within the confines of their homes.

With all masses in most Churches gone virtual through social media, NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas said they would not accept excuses offered by those caught violating the quarantine. 

President Duterte earlier asked Filipinos to pray together today as the Philippines struggles with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“This being the Holy Week, I am calling on the nation to come together this Holy Wednesday afternoon and pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of the Filipino and unite in one prayer to God to fight our common enemy,” the President said in a televised address Monday night.

Sinas said, “We have talked to the chaplain service and there are no Visita Iglesia and other rites, those are prohibited because we are under quarantine.”

Catholics, however, need not miss out on the yearly tradition as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has offered a virtual “Visita Iglesia in 360,” wherein the faithful will have the opportunity to virtually visit seven or more churches with a 360-degree view without leaving their homes.

Visita Iglesia is a Roman Catholic tradition during Lenten season wherein the faithful would visit seven churches on the evening of Maundy Thursday while the Blessed Sacrament is displayed for adoration. 

Other rites include the Pabasa, various processions and other liturgical activities done within churches. 

“No processions and pabasa, also. People can do pabasa, but only in their homes. But if you fetch neighbors to do so, that’s prohibited,” Sinas said. “We have issued directives to all policemen that should there be masses, talk to the priests… And there shall also be no processions.”

Quiapo Church is currently offering an online participation of the Pabasa ng Pasiong Mahal through their Facebook page. 

The NCRPO remains on red alert this Holy Week, Sinas said, adding that all police were prepared to enforce peace and order during the period.

Christians have been observing Holy Week, which commemorates the passion and death of Jesus Christ, since Sunday.  ?Duterte, who previously described himself as a believer of a Supreme Being but not of organized religion, said God is “the only one who can really solve the problem for us.” He said the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be solved until scientists discover a vaccine. 

Last month, Duterte issued Proclamation No. 934 declaring the fourth week of March as National Week of Prayer and urged Filipinos to pray for the recovery of people afflicted with COVID-19, the comfort of those who lost loved ones and the protection of all, especially the most vulnerable sectors of society.?Meanwhile, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. urged Roman Catholics and Muslims to join together and pray during Holy Week and Ramadan that COVID-19 will leave the country soon.

“As we observe the solemnity of these holy days, let us pray together that God may spare us. We know that Ramadan is coming. I hope that our Muslim brothers will join us to pray that we will be spared in this health crisis that we are experiencing today,” Galvez said Monday evening at a briefing in Malacañang. 

He also asked the Filipino people to continue to stay home. – With Alexis Romero, Jose Rodel Clapano

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