The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) directed all local government units (LGUs) on Monday, April 11, to strictly implement the minimum public health standards (MPHS) as mass gatherings are expected to happen during the Holy Week break.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said public gatherings in the observance of “Semana Santa 2022’’ from April 11 to 17 could turn to super spreader events that may cause another Covid-19 surge.
“This year is a week-long opportunity for the public to take their holiday break and for spiritual recollection and recreational activities. LGUs are, therefore, expected to be more creative and proactive in carrying out strategies to ensure that the public strictly complies with the MPHS while they are going about with their religious traditions or vacation,” Año said.
“We do not want the (Covid-19) figures to go up again after the Holy Week because of laxity on the part of LGUs and non-adherence of MPHS by the public. Hence, local governments should expect and be ready to deal with the health and security concerns that may arise because of the huge influx of people going to the provinces,” he added.
The DOH (Department of Health) BIDA+ Solusyon sa Covid-19 campaign noted that among the MPHS that must be exercised by the public are wearing of face mask; especially in public and enclosed places washing and sanitizing of hands; physical distancing; referring to factual information from legitimate sources and taking advantage of free vaccines against Covid-19.
In an advisory released on March 29, 2022, Año said local chief executives must convene their respective Local Peace and Order Councils (LPOCs) for action planning, anticipating, and preparing for the heavy movement of people from various places.
He maintained that the LPOCs should ensure the availability of adequate public transportation, and emergency medical services, with peace, order, and public safety as the highest priority.
"Dalawang taon na hindi nakapagdaos nang maayos na Semana Santa sa ating bansa kaya naman asahan na natin ang malaking bilang ng mga manananampalataya na lalabas ng tahanan para dito (It has been two years that we were unable to celebrate solemnly Semana Santa in the country so we expect a huge number of faithfuls to go outdoors for this celebration). The bottom line is we should ensure a safe and peaceful observance of Semana Santa 2022," Año lamented.
The DILG also urged the local chief executives (LCEs) to coordinate with their local law enforcement units like the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and other safety and security authorities.
In the same advisory, Año rallied LCEs to mobilize law and traffic enforcers, barangay tanods, Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams, public safety officers and other force multipliers to intensify visibility on local and national roads to assist the public; deploy patrols in crime-prone areas, and boost traffic management.
The said instrumentalities can also be deployed in air and seaports and other transportation terminals, pilgrimages, churches, markets, and other travel destinations and public places.
Año also emphasized that LCEs must ensure cleanliness and orderliness by mobilizing all resources in garbage collection and disposal, and clean-up operations of all public places. (Chito A. Chavez)