Manila Apostolic Administrator Broderick Pabillo expressed his disappointment over the restrictions imposed by the government on religious gatherings amid the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) and the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) being implemented in different parts of the country.
In a Facebook post, Pabillo said that while he’s happy that religious gatherings are now allowed, the restrictions of people allowed to join the mass are ‘unreasonable.’
He questioned why the government limits the people allowed to join the mass while they’re not giving restrictions to the individuals entering groceries, factories, and offices.
“The IATF came out with a recent decision that set the parameters for activities for the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) and the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ). In the church we are happy that in both, religious activities are allowed. But at the same time, the limitations they set to religious activities are unreasonable – 5 persons for MECQ and 10 persons for MGCQ! It is just another way of saying that you do not have religious activities,” the bishop said.
“Where did they get these numbers? Why is it that they do not give the absolute numbers of persons who can enter a store, or work in the office, or in the factory? Do they say that only 10 persons should be in an office, or that 20 persons work in a factory, or that only 5 persons can enter a store at a time? This would be preposterous!” he added.
According to him, some churches in the country, especially in NCR are big enough to accommodate a crowd of more than five to ten people while practicing social distancing.
He also said that the government made its decision without asking the Catholic Church for consultations.
“There are many churches with different sizes. Five persons for such a big church as Baclaran or the Manila Cathedral is laughable! The one-size-fits-all directive is really unreasonable! Why not give instead of the instruction that there be one meter or two-meter distance between persons in a church?” he said.
“This directive on religious activities was surely taken without any consultation with the religious sector. This is a problem with the government. They make arbitrary decisions without proper consultation with the sectors involved. So they come out with unreasonable directives!” he added.
Meanwhile, the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas, an organization accredited by the Catholic Church reminded the devotees to avoid forgetting their donations to the church.
“As a result, collections and various offerings to our churches have also stopped. As members of the Church, we know that all the services and duties (of) our parishes and diocese require our continued contributions,” Laiko president Rouquel Ponte said.
“Therefore, we must not forget and neglect this important and fundamental duty,” he added.
Religious gatherings were restricted during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) imposed in the Philippines, one of the Catholic nations in Southeast Asia.
On May 16, IATF-IED has allowed several places in the country to conduct religious gatherings.
However, it’s only limited to not more than five to ten people so most of the devotees should still rely on watching online mass.
In South Korea, a religious group was blamed for spreading COVID-19 in the said country.