Manila bishop hits religious gatherings' limit based on number of persons

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 17 2020 01:57 PM

Youth volunteers put marks reminding people to observe physical distancing at San Agustin Church in Manila. Czar Dancel, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo on Sunday slammed as "unreasonable" government's limitations on religious gatherings in terms of the number of persons allowed.

Pabillo said government should have instead recommended 1 to 2 meters physical distancing regulation between individuals inside churches.

"There are many churches with different sizes. Five persons for such a big church as Baclaran or the Manila Cathedral is laughable! The one-size-fits-all directive is really unreasonable," he said in a Facebook post.

"Where did they get these numbers? Why is it that they do not give the absolute numbers of persons who can enter a store, or work in the office, or in the factory?"

Pabillo said the directive was "surely taken without any consultation with the religious sector."

"This is a problem with the government. They make arbitrary decisions without proper consultation with the sectors involved. So they come out with unreasonable directives," he said.

Pabillo earlier urged government to allow the resumption of religious services as these were "essential" to the public, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the Catholic Church submitted guidelines to the government's inter-agency task force handling the pandemic on the reopening of churches.

"Kailangan ito para mapatatag ang ating mental, psychological, spiritual resilience ngayon panahon na ito," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

The Philippines, with its 100 million people, is the bastion of Roman Catholicism in Asia, with 8 in 10 people subscribing to the faith. Spanish colonizers brought the religion in the 1500s.