Temporary closure of cemeteries, columbariums to be lifted if COVID cases zero, cure found
MAYOR Isko Moreno urged those who have departed loved ones interred in Manila to begin paying them a visit any day from now to October 30, saying his order to temporarily shut down all cemeteries and columbariums in the city from October 31 to November 3 will only be lifted if and when there is already a cure for COVID-19 or the number of coronavirus cases in the city had become ‘zero.’
“Pag bumuti ang sitwasyon sa pandemya, na-zero na, wala nang kaso pagdating ng October 31, akin pong babawiin ang EO. Kung sakali naman at dumating ang vaccine by October 30, akin rin po itong kakanselahin,” Moreno said, adding that the city government has allotted already a total of P200 million for the purchase of the cure for COVID-19 once it becomes available.
In ordering the temporary closure of the final resting places in the city, whether private or public, Moreno cited as a reason that traditionally, huge volumes of people flock to cemeteries for instance, to observe the All Saints’Day and All Souls’ Day or what is known as ‘Undas.’
The mayor stressed that at the Manila North Cemetery alone, the number of tombs reach 105,837 drawing at least 1.5 million visitors in the three-day observance of ‘Undas’, while 39,228 are buried at the Manila South Cemetery which registers over 800,000 visitors during the same period every year. Manila is also host to the Manila Chinese Cemetery and Paco Park, among others.
“Kesa nagkakabiglaan tayo at bigla-bigla ay kakanselahin natin ang tradisyon at kultura bagamat minsan kailangan din, kikilalanin at igagalang pa rin natin ang tradisyon at bibigyan ng pagkakataon ang lahat na mabisita ang nahihimlay nilang mahal sa buhay. Pasensiya na kayo isa ito sa epekto ng ‘new normal,” Moreno said.
“Patawarin ninyo ako kung sakaling masaktan ko ang inyong damdamin na hindi makita ang mahal sa buhay sa panahon na ‘yun (Undas) pero inaagapan namin… may mga panahon at oras na di natin kailangang magsiksikan at pumila para bumisita. Hinihingi ko ang pang-unawa ninyo..para sa kaligtasan ng lahat,” he added.
While he is extremely proud of the Filipino tradition of paying a visit to our departed loved ones during Undas, Moreno said it is a known fact that the threat of COVID-19 transmission is ever present and even high, during mass gatherings.
The surge of visitors in cemeteries during ‘Undas’ poses a big challenge to the anti-COVID-19 efforts of government authorities and health workers, to those who are otherwise healthy and free from the coronavirus in the meantime and to the strict implementation of the required physical distancing to keep everyone safe from getting infected, Moreno explained.