For Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos, the question on whether or not to reopen cinemas under strict quarantine classification is “just a small issue” in the grand scheme of pandemic recovery.
In a press conference Monday, Feb. 15, Abalos aired doubts on the practicality of reopening movie houses as well as Filipinos’ actual clamor for the leisurely activity.
“What’s important is the behavioral aspect, the attitude of each and every individual. Siguro ikaw kung manonood ka sine, kakabahan ka kung dadalhin mo anak mo baka magkasakit eh (If you’re going to watch a movie, you’ll probably hesitate to bring your child because he or she might get sick),” he said.
“Parang kokonti rin yata nagsho-shooting ng pelikula eh sa totoo lang eh. Number two, i-assume natin maraming pelikula. Sinong papasok ng sinehan sa ngayon na hindi siya kakabahan? Baka walang manood eh (To be honest, I think very few studios are shooting films. Number two, let’s assume there are a lot of movies to show. Who would go to the cinema nowadays without any fear? There may not be any movie-goers),” claimed Abalos.
“Kaya ang sabi ko yung sinehan, it’s just a small issue here eh (That’s why I said the cinema is just a small issue here),” the MMDA chief added.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) had approved the reopening of movie houses at 50 percent capacity in areas under General Community Quarantine or GCQ. However, the 17 mayors in Metro Manila–which Abalos work with closely–are opposing this notion due to fears of triggering coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection among the movie goers.
“There should be a calibration of both the health and the economic teams with the local government units and all affected sectors,” said Abalos.
“We are one with the economic team in the reopening of business activities but we cannot do it hastily. It should be gradual. We need to help each other here,” he pointed out.