MANILA—A priest on Monday denounced the government for its supposed "inconsistent" health and safety protocols after thousands were allowed to visit Manila Bay's dolomite beach over the weekend, which was criticized as a possible COVID-19 superspreader event.
"Bakit ganun? Bakit inconsistent? Ano ba talaga? Bawal bang lumabas ang mga bata o puwede? (Why is it inconsistent? Are children allowed to go outside or not?) Very, very inconsistent to say the least," Fr. Aris Sison, parish priest of St. John Paul II Parish in Quezon City, told TeleRadyo.
The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 has ordered all cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbaria to close from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2 to prevent coronavirus transmission.
Millions of Filipino Catholics typically offer prayers and flowers for their departed loved ones in cemeteries during the All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day holidays.
If the public are allowed to visit the dolomite beach, why not allow them to visit their departed loved ones, Sison asked.
"Alin ba ang mas importante? Ang ating malalim na religious tradition na dumalaw sa ating mga mahal sa buhay na pumanaw na o 'yung magpunta sa beach?" he said.
(What's more important? Our deep religious tradition of visiting our departed loved ones o visit the beach?"
For Sison, there appears to be a "double standard".
"Kung ili-limit ang dami ng tao, 'di ganun din sa sementeryo para lang consistent tayo kasi nakakalito," he said.
(If there will be a limit on people, it could also be done in cemeteries so it's consistent and not confusing.)
In September, Sison and Quiapo Church parochial vicar Fr. Douglas Badon also criticized the government after it decided at the last-minute to defer the implementation of looser quarantine in Metro Manila.
Last year, cemeteries in Metro Manila were also closed during Undas as a precaution against COVID-19.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had said the public could visit cemeteries, memorial parks and columbaria any day except on Oct. 29 to Nov. 2. These venues should limit accepting visitors at 30 percent of their capacity, he had added.