Metro Manila mayors recommend weeklong closure of cemeteries
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) general manager Jojo Garcia said yesterday that the mayors agreed to come up with a uniform date of closing down cemeteries although the actual dates would still be up to the IATF.
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Metro Manila mayors recommend weeklong closure of cemeteries
Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila mayors will recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) the closure of cemeteries for one week – from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4 – which covers the period before and after All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) general manager Jojo Garcia said yesterday that the mayors agreed to come up with a uniform date of closing down cemeteries although the actual dates would still be up to the IATF.

In an online briefing, he said cemetery goers may visit their loved ones and vendors could sell their wares days or even months ahead of the one-week closure.

Parañaque Mayor and Metro Manila Council chairperson Edwin Olivarez said cemetery goers would be allowed to visit their departed loved ones weeks or even months before the annual commemoration of the dead.

The MMC, consisting of the 17 Metro Manila mayors, also agreed to allow interment and cremation services during the closure period, he added.

“For the past six months, rapid cremation has drastically increased not only in Metro Manila but in the country during this COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, cremation facilities located inside the private and public cemetery should be open during this six-day closure,” Olivarez noted.

Garcia explained that the recommendation to close down the cemeteries is to avoid mass gatherings.

“We know it has been a Filipino tradition to go to the cemeteries during All Souls’ and Saints’ Day in crowds. But the situation now is different. We are in a pandemic. Maybe, we can all pray in our homes instead,” Garcia said.

Vendors also have the whole month to earn a living by selling flowers and candles amid a pandemic, he added. “We actually lengthened the period for them to visit the cemeteries and to sell flowers. What we are just avoiding is for them to go there in droves.”

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the Department of Health is also inclined to recommend the closure of all cemeteries nationwide during Undas as she noted that people could already visit their loved ones ahead of the traditional days.

It is up to the local government units to come up with a scheduling and cemetery pass system, like what will be done in Marikina during Undas, Garcia said.

“It has a psychological effect on the people that they visit the dead on the day or a day before Undas. So before the closure, the public has 27 days in October to visit the cemeteries for scheduling,” Garcia said in explaining the lead time of closing the cemeteries days before and after Undas to avoid the deluge of people.

The Manila city government was the first to order the closure of cemeteries during Undas. Other local government units followed suit, with Marikina to implement cemetery passes and San Juan to ban trick or treating and other Halloween activities.

Senior citizens and minors would not be allowed in the cemeteries. Local government units may come up with their own guidelines on the scheduled visits to the cemeteries before the closure, Garcia said.

But interment and cremation in the cemeteries and columbariums would not be banned during the period.

Those visiting the provinces for Undas would have to wait for guidelines from the local government units there and comply with travel requirements for trips between areas under general community quarantine and modified general community quarantine, Garcia said. – Sheila Crisostomo, Ralph Edwin Villanueva

ALL SAINTS DAY ALL SOULS’ DAYS
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