MANILA — The government will consider alternative options for All Souls' Day so that Filipinos may still pay their respects to the deceased despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he would suggest a 5-day time allowance for the public to visit cemeteries for "Undas," an annual tradition when millions of Filipinos visit their departed loved ones.
This as several local governments, including capital Manila, Marikina City and Angeles City, announced temporary closures of public and private cemeteries in their localities for several days between the end of October and the start of November.
"Titingnan po natin kung mayroong mga alternatibo dahil naniniwala naman po ako na importante sa mga Pilipino ang Undas," Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
(We will see if there are alternatives because we know how important Undas is to Filipinos.)
COVID-19 policy chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Wednesday he would recommend the temporary closure of cemeteries on All Souls' Day as a precautionary measure against the spread of the virus.
“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.)
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno's announcement of the closure of cemeteries in the capital city from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 ignited discussions on the matter at the national level.
Mass gatherings remain discouraged as the Philippines is still under varying levels of community quarantine due to the persistent threat of COVID-19.