Cemetery visit rules: Masks required, picnics not allowed

VISITORS are required to wear face masks when entering cemeteries in Lapu-Lapu City from Saturday, Oct. 29 to Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, with the cemetery and memorial park owners to suffer the consequences for the visitors’ non-compliance.

But in other parts of Cebu, local chief executives have not mandated mask wearing in cemeteries and memorial parks, with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia also leaving mayors in the province to decide on the guidelines in their localities for the observance of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days next week.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan issued Executive Order (EO) 2022-50 last Oct. 24 establishing the guidelines for the observance of All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2), locally known as Kalagkalag,

With crowds expected in these areas on these days, Chan ordered owners, managers and administrators of all public and private cemeteries and memorial parks in the city to ensure strict compliance on the wearing of masks for those entering their premises or be subjected to the suspension of their business permit.

Chan’s order comes after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. issued last Sept. 12, 2022, EO 3 allowing voluntary mask wearing in “open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation” across the country amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Visitors may enter Lapu-Lapu cemeteries and memorial parks from 6 a.m. to midnight on these days.

Chan prohibited any form of alcoholic beverages and gambling in the cemeteries, as well as sound systems, playing of loud music, karaoke and bladed weapons.

Chan also specified that only ambulant vendors with special permits from the Office of the City Mayor may sell goods on these days at the designated vending areas outside the cemeteries.

Cebu City

In Cebu City, Mayor Michael Rama said cemeteries could decide on the time they would close on Nov. 1 and 2, while he also left members of the public to protect themselves from the threat of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Rama made the remarks as he visited the Calamba Cemetery, on Thursday, Oct. 27, to inspect if management had complied with his order to have only one entrance and one exit for the Kalagkalag.

During his visit, there were no more illegal settlers in the Calamba Cemetery, one of the biggest cemeteries in Cebu City. In their place were police officers deployed to secure visitors on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days.

The mayor said he wanted the situation to return to normal, which was why he did not enforce strict restrictions.

Father Cocoy Omilla of San Nicolas Parish, which manages the Calamba Cemetery, said they would open the gates at 5 a.m. on Nov. 1 and 2. Masses will be held starting at 6 a.m.

Omilla said they will close at 10 p.m. But they will allow visitors beyond that if they have valid reasons.

“Majority who try to enter after 10 p.m. are drunk. It will be a case-to-case basis. Only those who want to pray will be allowed in,” he said.

Deploying hundreds

On Thursday, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) deployed 455 uniformed police personnel in 21 cemeteries, excluding the almost 900 members of Task Force Kasaligan, Probe team and barangay tanods, to ensure the safety of visitors during Kalagkalag.

According to CCPO Director Col. Ireneo Dalogdog, they will enforce Oplan Displina in the cemeteries as well as put up signs reminding visitors to watch out for criminals.

“If the (cemetery) administrator says they will remain open until 2 a.m. or 4 a.m., our police officers will be there to watch over the visitors until that time,” Dalogdog said.

Province

In Cebu Province, Garcia on Thursday reminded the management of transport terminals to ensure that passengers bound for different provinces have a safe trip.

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office interim officer Wilson Ramos said Thursday that rescue teams from local disaster risk reduction and management offices will be on standby to monitor the situation.

Cordova, Danao

In Cordova town and Danao City in Cebu, the public is allowed to visit cemeteries only until 10 p.m. on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days.

Cordova Mayor Cesar Suan and Danao City Mayor Thomas Durano issued their respective EOs Thursday, Oct. 27, indicating the dos and don’ts on Nov. 1 and 2.

In his EO 17, Suan said visitors may enter cemeteries in Cordova as early as 6 a.m. Drinking liquor, karaoke and selling goods in cemeteries are prohibited.

He said wearing of masks was encouraged as a number of people are expected on those days.

Durano, for his part, issued EO 51, which states that the curfew for minors will continue even during the Kalagkalag commemoration.

Picnics

In Cebu Province, Cebu Police Provincial Office Director Col. Rommel Ochave said they will deploy 1,200 police officers, excluding force multipliers like tanods (watchmen) and other groups.

Picnics inside cemeteries and firearms, even if these are licensed, will not be allowed.

Ochave said police officers will secure not only cemeteries but also tourist destinations since many are expected to flock to these places because of the long weekend.

He said he will assign two teams each to the north and south bus terminals. The Armed Forces of the Philippines will also deploy K9 units inside the terminals.

Weather

Meanwhile, weather bureau Pagasa Mactan said Cebu will continue to experience light to moderate rainfall in the next few days due to Tropical Depression Paeng.

With this, the Philippine Coast Guard announced Thursday, the cancellation of some sea trips from Polambato Port in Bogo City, Cebu to Mintac, Masbate and Matnog, Sorsogon.

Also canceled Thursday were the trips from Hagnaya Port in San Remigio to Cataingan, Masbate, and from Maya Port in Daanbantayan, Cebu to Calbayog, Samar.

Cebu ports

Around 300,000 passengers are expected to flock to Cebu’s ports and subports for the All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days observance.

In a statement, Cebu Port Authority (CPA) acting deputy general manager Glenn Castillo said they expect more people to flock to their ports now that Covid-19 restrictions have been loosened.

During last year’s Kalagkalag, CPA welcomed around 150,000 passengers.

CPA spokesperson Mary Knoll Lague-Bolasa told SunStar Cebu that most of their ports and subports had been fully repaired after they sustained damage due to Typhoon Odette (Rai) almost a year ago.

CPA has jurisdiction over the four domestic ports at the Cebu baseport in Cebu City and the 12 subports situated in Cebu Province.

At least six subports located in Lapu-Lapu City, the Camotes Islands, Dumanjug town, Danao City and Argao town were damaged by the typhoon last year.

Bolasa said of the six damaged subports, only the subport in Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City is still in the process of being repaired. The Muelle Osmeña subport in Lapu-Lapu has been repaired.

Castillo said all ports in Cebu will be on heightened alert from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4 to ensure the safety and security of all passengers traveling to their home provinces or cities.

For the duration of the Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Undas 2022, around 730 security and port personnel will be deployed to all ports in Cebu to guarantee the safety and comfort of passengers.

Castillo also reminded the public to report any illegal ticket scalping by unauthorized persons and to book their tickets in advance to avoid heavy queuing outside the port area where most ticketing outlets are located.

Only passengers with boat tickets and valid identification cards (IDs) will be allowed entry to the ports at least two hours from the scheduled departure time.

Castillo also urged the public to follow health protocols including wearing of masks while inside passenger terminal buildings. (MKG, ANV / LMY, AYB / PJB, JKV, PR)