Palace: Allowing churches to open on Holy Week will only attract huge crowds

Published March 24, 2021, 12:45 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang explained that the government’s pandemic task force decided to prohibit religious gatherings until April 4 because it will drive the people to go out despite the spike in coronavirus disease (COVID) cases in the country.


Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after some members of the Catholic Church questioned the ban on religious gathering during the two-week NCR+ bubble that covers the Holy Week.

The NCR+ bubble is the collective general community quarantine (GCQ) bubble that covers the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.

In a radio interview, Roque said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases initially considered allowing churches to operate at 10 percent capacity but eventually decided against it.

“Naging conclusion ng IATF, kung ia-allow mo yung 10 percent, mas maraming magkukumpulan sa labas na nag-aantay ng susunod na misa dahil nga napaka kaunti ng 10 percent (The IATF concluded that if you will allow 10 percent inside the church, then many people will wait outside for the next mass because only a few are allowed inside),” he told Teleradyo.

“Kapag 10 percent ka nga sa loob pero sa labas naman kumpul-kumpulan sila, eh ‘di pareho rin ang suma-tutal (If you have 10 percent inside but you have the rest outside, then it’s as if you have the same number of people),” he added.

However, Roque hoped that the public can understand why the IATF had to make the unpopular decision to close churches during Holy Week.

“Pero alam naman po natin na with 8,000 cases a day, siguro maintindihan ng tao naman (With 8,000 cases a day, perhaps the people can understand),” he said.

“Kung normal na pagkakataon, siguro pwede pa nating i-allow yung 10 percent (If we’re not in this situation, perhaps we could allow even 10 percent),” he added.

Roque said while Catholics cannot go to church to hear Mass, they can still practice their faith while at home for the Holy Week.

Meanwhile, Roque acknowledged that the Catholic Church will follow the directive of the IATF.