Malacañang on Wednesday said the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 has approved the recommendation to suspend the traditional Traslacion procession and other related activities for “The Feast of the Black Nazarene” this year.
In a virtual media briefing, Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeal to the Roman Catholic Church and the Black Nazarene devotees to cancel the physical gatherings, including the traditional procession on January 9, to further prevent the further increase of Covid-19 cases.
“In line with this, the NTF Covid-19 has approved the suspension of the Traslacion or the procession of the Black Nazarene image,” Nograles said in Filipino.
The suspension also includes the closure of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, popularly known as Quiapo Church in Manila from January 7 to January 9, and no physical masses shall be held.
As an alternative, Nograles said the NTF also approved the conduct of online masses which will be aired nationwide.
In a news release, the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) also called on all devotees of the Black Nazarene to safely observe the Traslacion and its related activities by attending virtual events at home instead of going to unsafe gatherings.
“We have witnessed this past holiday season how fast, how rapid the rise has been of Covid-19 because of social gatherings. We would like to remind everyone to be vigilant and continue practicing the necessary health protocols amid the impending threat of the Omicron variant and the continued rise in cases these past days,” DOH Secretary of Health Francisco T. Duque III said
Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines, said the “alarming situation” calls for safer ways to celebrate traditions.
“We appeal to devotees — please stay at home to help limit the spread of Covid-19 and its variants. Doing so is an act of kindness. We need to protect each other, especially our elderly and those with underlying medical conditions,” he said.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said the city government will be stricter in implementing health protocols despite the Quiapo Church’s decision to heed the NTF resolution scrapping the Traslacion and other related physical activities.
“This is the second time that there will be no Traslacion, last year there are masses, so what we did, there are choke points then there are lines, but this time there will be no event, no physical mass, no video wall, the church will be closed, only online mass,” Domagoso said in a media briefing at the Manila City hall in Filipino.
He urged the public not to go Quiapo Church, saying there will be police personnel and enforcement units within the perimeter of the church as well as in all the roads leading towards the church.
Domagoso signed an executive order prohibiting the sale of liquor and other alcoholic beverages from 6 p.m. of January 8 to 6 a.m. of January 10.
He extended his gratitude to Msgr. Hernando “Ding” Coronel, Rector and Parish Priest of the Quiapo Church, for heeding the call of the city government to suspend the procession and related activities.