GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The city government on Monday urged residents to visit the graves of their departed family members and relatives early to avoid crowding the cemeteries here amid the global pandemic.
Mary Ann Calonzo Tan, head of the City Housing and Land Management Office (CHLMO), said the city’s main public cemetery, the Antonio C. Acharon Memorial Park (ACAMP), in Barangay Fatima, and other facilities are now open to accommodate visitors.
She said they have set the visitation period ahead of the observance of the “Undas” or All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days on November 1 and 2.
Tan said they were still waiting for further issuances from the national and city governments regarding the traditional visitation to cemeteries this year in the wake of the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
She said the visits are subject to the strict observance of the health protocols, including safe physical distancing and the proper wearing of face masks.
“We made the necessary preparations for this considering that we’re still facing this pandemic,” she told reporters.
Last year, the local government set a two-week visitation period in all cemeteries in the city due to the surge then in Covid-19 cases.
It was in line with a directive from the national Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases that set the closure of all cemeteries, columbaria, and memorial parks during the “Undas” or from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4.
The CHLMO manages the ACAMP, which has seen major improvements in the past several years including the expansion of the site, concreting of the main road, and the construction of additional niches.
She said they are working on the establishment by next year of a crematorium within the ACAMP through a PHP25-million funding.
Lt. Clarizel Perez, the spokesperson of the city police office, said they are currently preparing the security and deployment plan for the upcoming All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
She said the city’s eight police stations are also coordinating with concerned government and private offices regarding the operations of local cemeteries.
They are also waiting for the guidelines from the national IATF and the local government on the matter, she said.
The city has nine public and private cemeteries situated in eight of its 26 barangays that drew around 40,000 visitors prior to the pandemic.
These are ACAMP in Uhaw, Barangay Fatima; the public cemeteries in Barangays Conel, Tinagacan, Mabuhay, San Jose, and Bawing; and private cemeteries Monte Cielo, Chinese cemetery, and the Forest Lake Memorial Park. (PNA)