Once again, with a very heavy heart, I was constrained to issue over the weekend two Executive Orders (EOs) both of which are aimed at effectively addressing the current alarming spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the city of Manila which is similarly situated with the rest of the National Capital Region and its neighboring provinces.
One EO will see the implementation of a strict lockdown on 15 areas consisting of 13 barangays, a street and a building from 12:01 a.m of March 22, 2021 until 11:59 p.m. of March 25, 2021 or from Monday to Thursday.
Covered by the lockdown are Barangays 107, 147, 256, 262, 297, 350, 385, 513, 519, 624, 696, 281 and 831 as well as Kusang-Loob Street in Sta. Cruz, Manila under Barangay 353 and the NYK Fil-Ship Management under Barangay 658.
One might wonder why the latter areas to be locked down involved only a building and a street. The rationale behind this is to spare those who are law-abiding citizens practicing self-discipline when it comes to COVID health protocols and to isolate those who disregard their own safety and that of others.
Deep inside me, I do not want these lockdowns and it pains me to do this but it is quite unfair to other communities whose residents make sacrifies by voluntarily disciplining themselves while others continue doing activities that expose them or others to the possibility of getting infected with the coronavirus.
As usual, I made the announcement in advance so as to give those who will be affected ample time to prepare.
Prior to this, pursuant to the local chief executive’s power of general supervision over all component barangays of the city under Section 32 of the Local Government Code of 1991, I directed all barangay chairmen to strictly implement, under pain of administrative sanctions in case of failure, the following,: curfew hours (10 p.m. to 5 a.m. as agreed upon during a recent meeting of the Metro Manila Council); physical distancing; wearing of facemasks and face shields (per IATF Resolution No. 88, S. 2020) and City Ordinance no. 5555 which prohibits drinking in public places.
Meanwhile, under my other order, EO No. 9, all traditional, religious activities during the observance of the Holy Week from March 28 to April 4 will not be allowed.
As a devout Catholic myself, I am not happy issuing this order but we have to consider the current COVID-19 situation and allowing these usual activities will surely draw crowds and therefore increase the risk of community transmission of the coronavirus.
Processions, ‘Pabasa’, Cenakulo and other similar activities outside of Churches and places of worship in relation to the Holy Week are not allowed while religious rites inside Churches must strictly adhere to quarantine rules which limits to 50 percent of seating capacity the number of individuals inside the Church.
I am appealing to the Catholic faithful to understand where we are coming from specially since we have the obligation to protect the public and look out for their general welfare.
While we do away with the traditional ways of observing the Lenten season, I call on my fellow Catholics to continue expressing their religion by means of solemn prayers and strengthening our personal relation with God through good deeds.
I am confident that our Church authorities will understand and also cooperate with the local government in its desire to stem, if not totally eradicate, the transmission of COVID-19 among our city residents.
We were together in relentlessly fighting this COVID-19 virus for over a year now. By pooling together our efforts and resources, we achieved remarkable milestones along the way in mitigating, if not preventing, the transmission of this dreaded virus while at the same time keeping our city’s economy afloat.
Recently, however, we have seen a resurgence of COVID -19 cases not only in our city but also in other parts of Metro Manila. Other factors like the presence of variants may have contributed to it but, to a large extent, the final analysis is that we may have become complacent and had put our guards down in fighting this COVID-19 virus.
I appeal to all Batang Maynila: There should be no letting up. Please.
Gaya ng paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, kailangan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat. Walang magmamalasakit sa Maynila kundi tayo ding mga Batang Maynila. Manila, God first!
For updates on latest developments in the city of Manila, please visit my Facebook account— ‘IskoMoreno Domagoso.’