By Rey E. Requejo and Joel Zurbano | Manila Standard
Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has appealed to the government to relax its restrictions on churches and other places of worship and allow vaccinated people inside to practice their religious faith even during the Enhanced Community Quarantine period.
“Let them visit their places of worship as long as they follow the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF)-imposed minimum health protocol,” Marcos said in a statement.
He made the call after meeting with various church leaders who complained about the lack of government’s consultation with them before closing down their places of worship.
Marcos said the government should consider that Filipinos are devoted to their faith, and it would contribute to their mental well-being and uplift their spirits when they can go inside the church to hear mass or pray.
“Some say that maybe the churches can be opened as well. Just allow those who have been vaccinated to go to church or mosque, to pray or worship or whatever. It would be a big help to our well-being, as well as to our mental health when we are allowed to go to church,” the former senator said.
“In the Philippines, we are very religiously devoted. As I said before, it has an effect on mental health. Going to church to pray somehow helps people’s well-being. It somehow makes your heart feel better. Filipinos always want to go to church and practice their faith,” he added.
Marcos noted that most churches are spacious enough, hence it would be easy to ensure social distancing.
Due to the ECQ last year, religious activities had to be held virtually to prevent mass gatherings.
When the restrictions were later on eased, churches were allowed ten percent to 30 percent of their capacity to be filled. But they were closed again for masses and other group activities when the ECQ was reimposed.
When the government banned religious gatherings last March, Catholic bishops decried the lack of consultation over the government’s decision, especially during the Holy Week.
With the country celebrating its 500 years of conversion to Christianity, the restrictions added to the dismay of the Catholic faithful.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo 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 hopes that the government would at least allow a 20 to 30 percent capacity of churches following strict protocol.