CEBU CITY – The Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) will deploy 160 uniformed personnel in major Roman Catholic churches here to strictly implement the minimum health protocols during the Misa de Gallo or pre-Christmas dawn masses.
Col. Wilbert Parilla, CCPO’s deputy chief for operations, told the Cebu media on Monday that the police will strictly enforce mandatory wearing of face mask and face shield as well as physical distancing among the churchgoers.
He said the police will also monitor people who will participate in the Holy Mass at the parish park or patio of big churches such as the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
Although the police will not apprehend churchgoers who will not wear face mask and face shield, they will not, however, be allowed entry at the church premises to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) transmission.
“We will monitor even those who will participate in the Holy Mass outside the church as they are not exempted from the protocols. We will advise them to go home,” Parilla said in Cebuano.
He said authorities had observed that churchgoers would always crowd the parish plaza or patio during past dawn masses rather than joining the faithful inside the church.
The 160-strong contingent from the CCPO headquarters in Camp Sotero Cabahug will augment police personnel from different precincts in the city, he said.
Parilla said the police will not intervene in practices during the Holy Mass such as distribution of the Holy Host during communion, among others, as the matter has already been discussed by church officials with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
However, touching and kissing of religious images at the church will be strictly prohibited and Parilla said the police personnel will closely monitor violators of this rule.
Meanwhile, he said the CCPO will discuss with the city government the suspension of quarantine passes of carolers who, he said, might abuse the pre-Christmas privilege during the duration of the dawn masses.
Mayor Edgardo Labella, in his executive order outlining the policy on Misa de Gallo, said the city will not require participants of dawn masses to bring their quarantine passes from Dec. 16-24.
“We don’t receive a threat (during Christmas break). But we should not be complacent. Our intelligence community are coordinating with the intel community with other places,” Parilla said, as he also urged local government units to manage the flow of vehicle traffic in their areas during the Misa de Gallo. (PNA)