By Bernadette E. Tamayo | The Manila Times
FORMER senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. appealed to the government to ease the restrictions on churches and other places of worship during the lockdown.
He urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow vaccinated people "to observe their faith even during the enhanced community quarantine period (ECQ)."
"Let them visit their places of worship as long as they follow the IATF-imposed minimum health protocol," Marcos said in a statement on Wednesday.
He made the appeal following his conversations with leaders of various churches who lamented 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."
He said vaccinated individuals should be allowed to go to churches, chapels or mosques to pray or worship.
"It would be a big help to our well-being and to our mental health if we are able to go to church," Marcos said in Filipino and English.
Marcos noted that most churches are spacious enough, hence, it would be easy to ensure social distancing.
In 2020, religious activities had to be held virtually to prevent mass gatherings, Marcos said.
"When the restrictions were later on eased, churches were allowed 10 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 imposed again," he said.
When the government banned religious gatherings in March, Catholic bishops decried the lack of consultation.
With the country celebrating its 500 years of conversion to Christianity, the restrictions added to the dismay of the Catholic faithful, Marcos said.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo urged the government regulatory bodies to consult the sectors concerned when making policies about them.
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.
Marcos voiced hopes that the government would at least allow a 20- to 30-percent capacity of churches following strict protocol.