Filipino Christians conduct the traditional reading of the passions of Christ during the so-called ‘pabasa’ in observance of Holy Week. (Photo: Ngunit Subalit Datapwat – Tumblr)
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Despite the decreasing number of Covid-19 cases, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is enjoining local government units (LGUs) to adopt and implement additional measures to strictly enforce the minimum public health standards (MPHS) in public gatherings that could turn into super spreader events during the observance of Holy Week until Easter Sunday, April 17.
To this, Partido Reporma senatorial candidate and former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief retired Gen. Guillermo Eleazar has expressed agreement as he noticed that there are many of the citizenry who have already grown complacent since the alert level status in most urbanized centers across the country has either been lowered to 1 or 2.
In an interview, the country’s former Top Cop reiterated his call to the public that there is no room for complacency since the threat of the coronavirus pandemic is still present, as seen in other neighboring countries where there has been reported a surge in infections due to the emergence of sub-variants of the highly transmissible Omicron mutation of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2) that causes Covid-19.
“Huwag sana tayong maging pabaya sa ating kalusugan dahil maaari pa ring dumami ang hawaan kapag naging kampante tayo at hindi na natin sinunod iyong mga health safety protocols na pinapatupad para din sa ating proteksyon,” Eleazar stressed.
He also enjoined those who have not yet been administered the Covid-19 vaccine to get over their doubts and apprehensions so that they can avail themselves of the national vaccination program that aims to achieve herd immunity among the populace.
Prior to Eleazar’s pronouncements, interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año gave recognition to this year’s Lenten break as a week-long opportunity for the public to take their holiday and for spiritual recollection and recreational activities, but he insisted that LGUs are, therefore, expected to be more creative and proactive in carrying out strategies to ensure that the public strictly complies with the MPHS while they are going about with their religious traditions or vacation.
“We do not want the figures to go up again after the Holy Week because of laxity on the part of LGUs and non-adherence of MPHS by the public. Hence, local governments should expect and be ready to deal with the health and security concerns that may arise because of the huge influx of people going to the provinces,” Año pointed out.
According to the Department of Health’s BIDA+ Solusyon sa Covid-19 campaign, among the MPHS that must be exercised by the public are wearing of face mask, especially in public and enclosed places; washing and sanitizing of hands; physical distancing; referring to factual information from legitimate sources; and, taking advantage of free vaccines against the disease.
In an advisory released on March 29, 2022, Año said local chief executives must convene their respective Local Peace and Order Councils (LPOCs) for action planning, anticipating, and preparing for the heavy movement of people from various places.
In ending, he said LPOCs should ensure the availability of adequate public transportation, and emergency medical services, with peace, order, and public safety as the highest priority.
“Dalawang taon na hindi nakapagdaos nang maayos na Semana Santa sa ating bansa kaya naman asahan na natin ang malaking bilang ng mga manananampalataya na lalabas ng tahanan para dito. The bottom line is we should ensure a safe and peaceful observance of Semana Santa 2022,” Año concluded while encouraging local chief executives (LCEs) to coordinate with local law enforcement units such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and other safety and security authorities. (ai/mtvn)