THE Cebu City Government has sent a request letter to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, formally asking the national body to allow the city to open its cemeteries and columbaria from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2, 2021.
The letter, dated Oct. 22, was addressed to IATF chairman Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and IATF co-chairmen Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
Acting Mayor Michael Rama defended his directive opening cemeteries and columbaria for one-hour visits at 50 percent capacity, with only fully vaccinated persons allowed entry on Nov. 1 and 2. Visits outside these dates from Oct. 18 to Nov. 5 are scheduled and for those 18-65 years old only.
“The City of Cebu, through the Office of the Mayor, most respectfully requests for an exemption on the directive that all cemeteries nationwide should be closed from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2,” read a portion of Rama’s letter to the IATF.
He further said in the letter: “We are not being defiant to the IATF. On the contrary, we respect its authority. We give it due courtesy as we always stand on the Rule of Law. We have sought an exemption to allow us to proceed with what we have long prepared for.”
Rama said Cebu City should be given an exemption as it has been preparing for the observance of the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day for a long time, and the City has been intensifying its vaccination campaign wherein more than 800,000 doses have been administered.
Meanwhile, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) of Mandaue City deployed its emergency responders and vehicles to cemeteries and columbaria in the city on Friday, to ensure that there would be no large crowds during the weekends.
Before the deployment, DRRMO head Buddy Alain Ybañez said they had started visiting cemeteries on Oct. 19, surveying what protocols needed to be implemented.
Although Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes mandated a temporary closure of all public and private cemeteries from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, Ybañez said they expected a traffic of people days before the said dates.
During the DRRMO’s cemetery visits, Ybañez said they learned that most of the public and private cemeteries in Mandaue City open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m, and Ybañez said it is most likely that most people would visit the tombs of their departed loved ones on weekends. (PAC, KFD)