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Guevarra defends limits to church attendance in NCR

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday defended the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to limit church-goers to 10 in the National Capital Region (NCR) despite the supposed eased restrictions under the general community quarantine (GCQ).

People wearing face masks stand and pray outside an empty Quiapo church, usually filled with devotees during Fridays but now closed due to restrictions to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Manila on March 27, 2020. – Catholic church authorities closed all its churches in line with the government’s imposed enhanced quarantine as a preventive measure against COVID-19. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Much as I would like to have a progressive and continuous movement, public health considerations bear heavily on IATF decisions,” said Guevarra, who is a member of the IATF.

The IATF had issued rules that stated that churches in modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) areas are allowed to accept church-goers up to 50 percent of their capacities, while those under stricter GCQ are only allowed 10 percent capacity.

“However, NCR backslid to MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) for two weeks upon the urgent plea of our medical workers,” said Guevarra.

NCR had been under GCQ since June 1 but was returned to the stricter MECQ from Aug. 4 to 18 along with four nearby provinces due to the appeal of the health community to slow down the rise in the number of cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Now, the NCR has de-escalated to GCQ, so dapat akyat uli sa 10 percent max ang attendance. Pero the Metro Manila mayors wanted a strict type of GCQ. So religious worship and other mass gatherings were kept at 10 pax maximum (Since it deescalated back to GCQ, churches in NCR are supposed to have a 10 percent maximum attendance. But Metro Manila mayors wanted a strict type of GCQ so religious worship and other mass gatherings were kept at 10 persons at the maximum),” Guevarra said.

“Outside NCR, however, maximum religious attendance follows the standard 10 percent rule in GCQ areas,” he said.

Guevarra said he shares the dismay expressed by Catholic prelates over the limit set in church attendance in Metro Manila.

“We just have to continue living our lives with the COVID virus as an unwanted part of it. We just have to deal with it and continue to protect ourselves,” he told Catholic prelates.

Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo called the decision to set a 10-person limit in churches in NCR as “illogical.”

“It seems not right that you allow 30 percent in restaurants but only 10 people in churches. The church is way bigger than a restaurant,” Pabillo said in a radio interview.

“All we are asking is, if they will give business enterprises a larger capacity, the same should be given to churches,” he added.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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