Gov't mulls closure of cemeteries on Undas 2020 as COVID-19 pandemic persists

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2020 04:28 PM

A child climbs on pet tombstones inside the Manila North Cemetery, November 1, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Philippines is mulling the closure of cemeteries on All Souls' Day in a bid to prevent crowding as the coronavirus pandemic persists.

COVID-19 policy chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Wednesday he would recommend the temporary closure of cemeteries on All Souls' Day, an annual tradition when millions of Filipinos visit their departed loved ones.

“Malaki po ang problema kung magkakaroon po ng uncontrolled crowding ‘yung ating cemeteries,” Galvez told reporters in Pampanga.

(There will be a huge problem if crowding in cemeteries will be uncontrolled.)

The idea was discussed after Manila Mayor Isko Moreno announced on Tuesday the closure of cemeteries in the capital city from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Angeles City then announced Wednesday it was closing public and private cemeteries from October 30 to November 2.

Stakeholders and different sectors will be consulted on the idea, COVID-19 policy deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon added.

"Ang tradisyonal nating ginagawa kapag Undas ay ipagpaliban muna natin ngayong may COVID, para maiwasan natin ang transmission dahil delikado talaga,” he said.

(Our traditional activities for Undas should be postponed while there is a pandemic so that we can avoid the transmission of the virus because it's really risky.)

Some local government officials are also mulling cemetery closure orders, such as Zambales Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. and Bataan Governor Abet Garcia.

"Ito’y balak kong i-discuss sa mga mayor ng lalawigan ng Bataan, para ma-consider po ito na ma-implement,” Garcia said.

(I plan to discuss this with mayors in Bataan province so they could consider it's implementation.)