MANILA – Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Friday supported the move of some local government units (LGUs) to close cemeteries during this year’s All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days or “Undas” observance amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Actually, we are encouraging that cemeteries be closed for ‘Undas’ to avoid mass gatherings. After all, the objective of people is just to visit their departed loved ones and they can do it anytime. Just imagine the scenario where millions of people will flock to cemeteries for that,” Año said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Año, however, said Metro Manila mayors have yet to reach a consensus on the matter as they have yet to meet on Sunday during the Metro Manila Council.
He added that they are also consulting with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.
Año, vice chair of the National Task Force against Covid-19, advised the public to observe the occasion in other ways.
“I hope the people, in their own ways, can just observe the occasion. We can pray at our homes, for instance,” he said.
He added that gatherings of people in cemeteries may result in massive infections.
“The hospitals would be in full capacity, many could die, because not all could be accommodated, that’s the problem if there is a surge,” Año said.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also backed the measure.
“Yes, I support it,” Lorenzana, who is also National Task Force Covid-19 chair, said in a message.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is expected to discuss proposals to close public and private cemeteries this Undas.
On Tuesday, Manila City Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso announced that all public and private memorial parks, cemeteries, and columbaries in the city will be closed from October 31 to November 3.
Other LGUs have followed suit as part of health and safety measures. (with reports from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)