By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go agreed with the position of Metro Manila mayors urging the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to reconsider and study further the planned reopening of traditional cinemas amid ongoing threats of COVID-19.
“Sang-ayon po ako sa ating mga Metro Manila mayors na pag-aralan po muna muli ang pagbubukas ng mga sinehan sa mga malls,” Go said in a statement.
“Delikado pa po ang sitwasyon,” he emphasized.
Earlier, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said that the reopening of the cinemas would revive the entertainment industry, valued at P13 billion, and bring back employment for approximately 300,000 Filipinos. The industry shrunk to P1.3 billion due to the lockdowns in 2020.
The Metro Manila Council, however, opposed the proposal. Paranaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez said that city mayors are apprehensive with the recommendation to reopen traditional cinemas.
Lopez said that the decision was reviewed by the experts in the technical working group of the IATF-EID, adding that extra protocols will be put in place, such as ventilation. Theaters in areas under general community quarantine are also allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity only.
The government yielded to the suggestion of Metro Manila local chief executives and has set the reopening of traditional cinemas on March 1, 2021, instead, albeit still subject to consultations with the mayors. Guidelines will also be crafted by concerned agencies and local government units in regard to the planned reopening.
The IATF, through Malacañang, said that they respect the position of LGUs and gave assurance that they will be consulted prior to the planned reopening.
“Nirerespeto po ng IATF ang posisyon ng ating mga alkalde, lalong-lalo na dito sa Metro Manila. Kaya nga po sa resolution, nakasaad po ‘yun, ito po ay magiging epektibo matapos po ang mga guidelines na ii-isyu ng mga lokal na pamahalaan, lalo na sa pagdating sa seating capacity ng mga sinehan,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said.
“Ngayon po ang status nito, ang pagpapatupad po ng pagbubukas ng sinehan kung matutuloy po ay Marso a-uno,” said Roque.
As the national vaccination program is awaiting implementation, Go advised Filipinos to remain vigilant by staying at home when possible and avoid unessential travels.
“Hindi po natin nakikita ang sakit na COVID-19, lalo na po sa loob ng sinehan na madilim. Hindi pa po nag-uumpisa ang ating pagbabakuna,” Go quipped.
“Kung maaari, manood na lang po tayo ng palabas sa ating mga tahanan. Maraming salamat po,” he advised.
He also urged the public to continue complying with necessary health protocols and prioritize their health and the safety of their communities.
“Huwag muna tayo magkumpyansa. Sa bawat desisyon na ating gagawin, isaalang alang natin ang kaligtasan at kapakanan ng ating komunidad. Unahin natin palagi ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he continues to remind authorities and the general public. (AI/MTVN)