Checkpoints will be placed on the borders of Metro Manila with adjacent provinces to prevent the persistent devotees from proceeding to Quiapo, Manila despite the suspension of the traditional Black Nazarene activities.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said Wednesday, Jan. 5, that the measure was initiated to warn the public that face to face activities in the traslacion is prohibited this year due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) surge.
Año said the St. John the Baptist popularly known as Quiapo Church has agreed with the government’s request to put off the Black Nazarene procession and other traslacion related mass gathering owing to the COVID-19 omicron variant which has seeped in the country’s territory.
“Meron na kasing coordination with the church (Quiapo Church). Pumayag din naman yung church na because of the (COVID-19) surge and the omicron variant ay online mass na lang muna ang gagawin at cancelled yung mga face to face activities including yung prosesyon saka yung tinatawag na pahalik (of the Black Nazarene) ano (There is already a coordination with the church. The church agreed that because of the surge and the omicron variant only online mass will be done and face to face activities including the procession and yung what we call kissing of the Black Nazarene are canceled),’’ Año stressed.
The Quiapo Church leaders heeded the government’s request for the suspension of the traslacion activity this year after a series of meetings with various agency officials, including the DILG.
“Syempre katulong din natin yung (Quiapo) church dito. Syempre ano na pagpapaliwag sa mga tao na bakit hindi tayo pupwedeng magobserve or payagan na iconduct yung traditional na prosesyon at pahalik (Of course the church has helped us. Of course we will explain to the people why we cannot observe or allow to conduct the traditional procession and kissing of the Black Nazarene), he added.
With regard to the deployment of two police officers in every quarantine hotel, Año maintained that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is up to the task brushing off fears about the forces being depleted in other areas in need of police visibility.
“Kaya naman ng PNP yan. Kasi alam mo naman tayo responsive tayo kung ano yung call of the time (The PNP is capable. Because you know we are responsive on what is the call of time),’’ Año insisted.
Año stressed that the government is trying to prevent the number of COVID-19 to insurmountable levels and a major factor in this is arriving Filipios who can be carriers of the virus quarantine protocols in the hotel facilities.
The DILG chief emphasized that the COVID-19 surge is only temporary adding that once the situation improves the police officers will be recalled and random and surprise inspections will now be conducted.
With the cases filed against Gwyneth Chua and Berjaya Hotel for breach of quarantine protocols, Año said that the hotel management will now be more responsible in ensuring that no escapes their facility or report instances when people try to do so. (Chito A. Chavez)