20,000 cops deployed to ensure cemeteries closed for ‘Undas’

Published October 29, 2020, 12:45 PM

by Aaron Recuenco 

More than 20,000 policemen have been deployed to ensure that cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbaria are closed on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day according to an order by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Cops conduct inspection at a cemetery in Iloilo City prior to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day last year. (Tara Yap/File/Manila Bulletin)

Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said they will be augmented by almost 27,000 force multipliers composed mostly of barangay security officers and security guards.

“We should make sure that the order of the IATF  should be strictly followed because the real intention here is to discourage the influx of large number of people during Undas as part of the measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus,” said Eleazar.

Eleazar said the order to intensify police presence in cemeteries, memorial parks, columbaria and other similar places is to ensure that hard-headed people would not be allowed to enter cemeteries and similar areas to honor their departed loved ones, especially on Nov. 1 and 2.

He said part of the order is the setting up of security in all entrances of the cemeteries and other similar places and the conduct of regular patrol in the vicinity of these areas.

Aside from the seven-day closure, the IATF-MEID also ordered that only 30 percent of the total capacity of these areas should be allowed to enter before and after the scheduled closure dates. Visitors have until Nov. 15 to honor their dead.

Burial and interment ceremonies are allowed from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4 but are subject to the guidelines of the IATF-MEID.

Eleazar appealed to the public to respect the order of the IATF-MEID, as well as the policemen and other force multipliers who are assigned to implement it. He said the public was given ample time to honor their departed loved ones and would be given more time from Nov. 5 to  15 to visit honor their dead relatives and friends.

He reminded people planning to go to their hometowns to be informed of the travel security protocol in their LGU of destination to avoid the hassle of being prevented entry at the border control checkpoints or Quarantine Control Checkpoints.

For non-APORs (Authorized Persons Outside Residence), which include Locally Stranded Individuals, Eleazar said the travelers would either secure a Travel Authority or Travel Pass-through Permit.

Travel Authority is required by LGU of destination with restricted travel policy. The TPP, on the other hand, is a document that would be presented by the non-APOR travelers at the QCPs of the LGU or LGUs with restricted travel policy on their way to an LGU with unrestricted travel policy.   

Both the Travel Authority and the TPP can be secured at the police stations. But unlike the Travel Authority which requires a Medical Clearance Certificate from the City or the Municipal Health Office as well as prior coordination between the LGU of origin and LGU of destination, there are no requirements in getting a TPP.

Police commanders across the country were also instructed to make the TPP immediately available but records of who were issued with TPPs must be maintained for reference. 

Eleazar said no Travel Authority or TPP is required if the LGU of destination and the LGU or LGUs that the traveler would pass through are all implementing unrestricted travel policy.