Sotto asks IATF to allow religious gathering under strictest alert level

Published September 13, 2021, 6:24 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday, Sept. 13, appealed to the government’s interagency task force for the COVID-19 pandemic to reconsider the prohibition on religious gatherings under their new quarantine classifications for Metro Manila.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III (Senate PRIB)

The government has approved the Interagency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ recommendation for the pilot implementation of the “Alert Levels System” to control coronavirus infections while allowing economic activities in the capital region.

Under the new scheme, which will take effect on Thursday, September 16, industries are identified as either closed, crowded, and close contact or 3Cs. Religious gatherings are listed under crowded industry.

3Cs will be allowed during alert levels 1, 2 and 3, at full capacity, 50 percent or 30 percent, respectively. If a level 4 is raised, no 3C activities shall be allowed.

But Sotto wanted religious worships to still be allowed during an alert level 4, at least 10 percent of a church’s capacity.

“Religious services and activities help the people by providing a spiritual support system, helping in the reduction of psychological stress, and promoting good mental health during this time of pandemic. Mahalagang pangalagaan din po ito ng ating pamahalaan (It’s important that government preserves this, too),” Sotto said in a statement.

Aside from their physical health, Sotto said the people also need to take care of their spiritual well-being.

He added that churches have been complying with the government’s health protocols and “have never been remiss in reminding the faithful to follow the necessary protocols while attending evangelical masses and other religious activities.”

Still, Sotto said he understands the need to restrict mass gatherings to the control the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), especially in Metro Manila.

“Kaisa po ako ng pamahalaan sa adhikaing mas epektibong ma-kontrol ang pagdami ng mga kaso ng COVID-19 (I am one with the government in its goal of controlling the increase of COVID-19 cases),” the Senate chief said.