The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) said the decision of the Inter Agency Task Force to ban religious gatherings in Metro Manila and other areas “grossly unfair.”
Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza, NCCP general secretary, said it was grossly unfair as it was done without consultation.
“I fully share the sentiments of my brother bishops from the Roman Catholic Church. It is grossly unfair that without due consultation with the churches, religious gatherings during this holy season for Christians are prohibited,” he said in a statement on Wednesday, March 24.
“In these anxious times, more than the strict, unjust, and inconsistent imposition of orders, the spiritual succor that the churches bring are much needed by the people,” added Marigza.
The NCCP official said churches and the religious services they provide, help people by “providing spiritual support system, morale-boosting, help in reducing psychological stress and promote good mental health.”
As to the Palace statement that the government can order churches to close if necessary through the enforcement of the police powers, Bishop Marigza said: “For more than a year, the churches have been strictly observing the health protocols imposed by the Department of Health and the IATF in the conduct of the religious services, the least that they could have done was to consult us.”
On March 21, the IATF ordered the prohibition of public gatherings during the imposition of the general community quarantine in Metro Manila and provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, now called as NCR Plus from March 22 until April 4 through the Resolution No. 104 approved by President Duterte.
NCCP is the country’s biggest aggrupation of mainline Protestant and non-Roman Catholic churches.