Metro Manila mayors 'unanimous' on closure of cemeteries during Undas: MMDA

Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2020 11:16 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2020 12:07 AM

A child hops from a stack of graves to another at the Barangka Municipal Cemetery in Marikina City, a day before thick crowds gather on All Saints' Day in cemeteries in 2015. Basilio H. Sepe, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATE)- All Metro Manila mayors agree with the proposal of closing cemeteries in their cities during the observance of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day due to the coronavirus pandemic, an official said Wednesday.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) general manager Jojo Garcia said in an interview that based on his earlier conversations with the 17 mayors of the capital region, majority, if not all, are willing to temporarily close cemeteries in their jurisdictions on Undas.

"Base sa group chat namin, majority talaga. It will be unanimous, I think ano. 17-0 'yan, if ever," Garcia told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

He said he will meet with the local executives on Sunday to set standard policies for the temporary shutdown, adding the country's inter-agency task force focused on coronavirus response will release their own set of guidelines for nationwide observance.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno earlier said the city will close cemeteries from October 31 to November 3 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla also said earlier that due to the familiar tradition of Filipinos flocking to cemeteries for Undas, the whole country "most likely" will close them temporarily for health and safety reasons.

"To avoid building up people in certain localities, lalo na ho dito sa Undas, malamang 'yan ang lalabas na polisiya," he said, advising the public to visit their deceased loved ones "ahead of time."

[LINK: https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/09/09/20/ph-cemeteries-most-likely-closed-during-undas-amid-covid-19-pandemic]

As of posting, the Philippines has 245,143 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 55,614 are active. 

The country's total number of recoveries is at 185,543 while its death toll is at 3,986.