By Mario Casayuran | Manila Bulletin
Former Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos Jr. has appealed for the easing of the restrictions on churches and other places of worship and allow vaccinated people inside to observe their faith even during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period.
“Let them visit their places of worship as long as they follow the IATF imposed minimum health protocol,” he said in a statement.
Marcos made the appeal following his conversations with leaders of various churches who lamented on the lack of government’s consultation with them before closing down their places of worship.
The former senator said the government should consider that Filipinos are devoted to their faith and it would contribute to their mental well-being and upliftment of their spirits when they can go inside the church to hear mass or pray.
‘’It would be a big help to our well-being, pati na sa mental health pag nakakasimba o nakakapunta sa simbahan (to go or pray in the churches), ” Marcos pointed out.
“Tayo pa naman dito sa Pilipinas, very devoted tayo e (We in the Philippines are devoted). Gaya nga ng sinabi ko kanina, may epekto sa mental health ito (As I have said earlier, it has an effect on our mental health). Nakakatulong ‘yung nananalangin ka kahit paano (Prayers help). ‘Yung nakakasimba ka, nakakapunta ka sa simbahan, kahit papaano nakakagaan ng puso ‘yan e (It lightens the heart when you are are able to go to church and pray). Ang karaniwang Pilipino e hinahanap natin ‘yan (That is what ordinary Filipinos long for),” he added.
Marcos noted that most churches are spacious enough. Hence, it would be easy to ensure social distancing.
Due to ECQ last year, religious activities had to be held virtually to prevent mass gatherings. When the restrictions were later on eased, churches were allowed to fill up ten percent to 30 percent of their capacity. But they were closed again for masses and other group activities when the ECQ was imposed again.
When the government banned religious gatherings last March, Catholic bishops decried the lack of consultation over the government’s decision, especially during Holy Week. With the country celebrating its 500 years of conversion to Christianity, the restrictions added to the dismay of the Catholic faithful.
In a public statement, Bishop Broderick Pabillo himself urged the government regulatory bodies to consult the sectors concerned when making policies about them.
For his part, Caloocan Bishop Virgilio David lamented that while churches are “locked down,” fitness centers are allowed to operate at 70 percent capacity and 50 percent in establishments for personal care services, including spas.
He expressed hope that the government would at least allow a 20 to 30 percent capacity of churches following strict protocol.