MANILA – The Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (LAIKO), a lay arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), on Monday lauded the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) for its hard work and efforts to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“We are highly cognizant of the measures it has implemented to address the impact of the pandemic in the economy, food security and the general well-being of the Filipino people,” LAIKO president Rouquel Ponte said in a statement.
As good citizens of the country, Ponte said LAIKO members “gladly complied with the guidelines set-forth by the IATF to prevent even more the spread of the Covid-19”.
At the same time, the group appealed to the IATF-EID to reconsider its decision not to allow religious gatherings in areas declared as general community quarantine (GCQ)
“As the IATF continues to assess its next moves after May 15, 2020, and with the withdrawal of its earlier decision to allow religious gatherings (in general) in areas declared as GCQ, we present this appeal so as to give the Filipinos a sense of the new normal in their spiritual gatherings and an opportunity to uplift our spiritual well-being, which are both humane and essential,” she said.
Ponte said LAIKO believes that giving the people the opportunity to connect with God through religious encounters and spiritual events “will directly translate into goodness for themselves and for others”.
“These are great opportunities to inspire and challenge them to do good things and share from the treasury of their good heart,” she added.
She said their group is ready to present to the IATF-EID their protocols and guidelines to assure that their members will strictly follow safety and quarantine measures of the government.
“We recommend that a further review be made, which may include looking into the possibility of delegating this decision to the local executives, who have greater appreciation, information and control over the Religious groups present among their constituents. We are willing to submit our plans, protocols and guidelines to assure them of our strict observance of these safety and health measures,” she said.
LAIKO requested IATF-EID to allow religious gatherings like Catholic masses, baptisms, anointing of sick, and funerals “with strict compliance to government guidelines on social distancing and sanitation”.
“We demand that our right to religious worship be not curtailed when the necessary safeguards are followed,” she added.
Meanwhile, Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP-Permanent Committee on Public Affairs (CBCP-PCPA), said the CBCP continues to coordinate with the government’s task force to consider the primary needs of the faithful to attend a mass services in areas under GCQ.
“The church is doing her thing through our leaders in the proper way,” he said in his program Veritasan aired over Church-run Radio Veritas.
Secillano said the Church has not stopped reminding its faithful to always follow the quarantine protocols and other measures to stop the spread Covid-19 pandemic.
“I would like to emphasize that the church has been compliant, the church is obedient, the church supports,” he said, adding the church has capability to impose quarantine measures.
At present, eucharistic celebrations are aired over the radio, television and live stream online through social media such as Facebook and YouTube. (ia/PNA)