Duterte to Pinoys: Have a meaningful Undas
A girl cleans a niche in the apartment-type tombs at the Bagbag cemetery in Quezon City yesterday. The government has ordered the closure of all cemeteries from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4.
Boy Santos
Duterte to Pinoys: Have a meaningful Undas
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has urged the public to have a meaningful commemoration of Undas or All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day this weekend despite the ban on visiting cemeteries and crypts from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4.

“I expect a peaceful celebration of All Saints’ Day and the All Souls’ Day,” Duterte said in a taped address to the nation telecast yesterday morning.

The President reminded the public not to bring liquor and observe the gun ban during the holidays.

“Now, for the All Saints, All Souls’ Day, it’s fixed … No liquor, no deadly instruments, especially guns, unless you are a military or a police,” he said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases had earlier ordered the public to visit the tombs of their departed loved ones ahead of time to avoid the traditional long weekend visits in cemeteries during the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

The IATF directed that all cemeteries be closed from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4 to avoid the influx of people and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Aside from cemeteries, memorial parks and columbariums should also be closed during the period.

DILG order

As this developed, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) yesterday ordered local government units (LGUs) and police commanders to ensure that all cemeteries will be closed during the Undas break from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said officials should not let their guard down even as the number of COVID-19 cases is going down, as he stressed that the viral disease remains a threat.

“We expect all LGUs to cooperate by ensuring that cemeteries within their localities are closed,” Año said in a statement.

The DILG chief also directed all police units to strictly enforce minimum health and standard protocols on days when people are allowed to visit their deceased loved ones in cemeteries. These include wearing face masks and face shields as well as observance of physical distancing protocols.

Año said LGUs must ensure that the number of visitors will be limited to only 30 percent of the venue’s capacity and police assistance desks will be set up at the entrance of cemeteries for an orderly flow of visitors.

“The local police commanders and the mayors by now should have discussed the rules that would be implemented per locality, but all these local rules … should conform to the guidelines set by the IATF,” he added.

In Pasig City, Mayor Vico Sotto has allowed people to visit cemeteries on Oct. 26-28 and on Nov. 5-7 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sotto also urged the public to take extra precautions and limit their stay in cemeteries to just one hour.

“If possible, let’s avoid crowded places like cemeteries. If it cannot be avoided because of religion/tradition, follow the barangay coding,” he said in a statement in Filipino posted on Facebook.

29,000 cops, force multipliers

Meanwhile, at least 29,000 police officers and force multipliers have been deployed in cemeteries across the country for the Undas break.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Philippine National Police deputy chief for administration, yesterday said of the figure, 12,000 are police officers while the rest are force multipliers from the barangays.

The security contingent will ensure that people are observing minimum health and safety protocols during the days they are allowed to visit their deceased loved ones in cemeteries.

Eleazar said policemen would strictly implement the 30 percent capacity for every cemetery so that social distancing protocols are maintained.

Local police commanders have coordinated with LGUs for security coverage on All Saints’ Day. – Emmanuel Tupas

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