“Ako bitaw mong giingnan nga ayaw ninyo himoa, inyo gyud nga gihimo. Karon, tan-awa.” Note: This is not the right English translation. This is a broken English translation that only Cebuanos will find funny. “I told you not to do so, you do so. Now, you look at.”
In my previous columns, I have been warning the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and our local policymakers about the holding of Misa de Gallo. In fact, I said even in my radio broadcast that if I had my way, I will cancel it and look for an option for our churches, like livestreaming on social media where people can avoid mass gathering. No less than church officials encouraged the faithful to watch the mass on social media if churches are already full.
Now, look at what happened? Today is the sixth day of the nine-day Misa de Gallo and our authorities failed to control the people who flocked to various churches to attend masses. During the first three days, or on Dec. 16, 17, 18, it was a terrible scenario seeing people flock to churches premises, disregarding the social distancing protocol. Even minors attended the masses when it was very clear in the executive order of our local chief executive that they are not allowed.
There was a total failure in crowd control by our authorities. Even Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Chief Joel Garganera were scratching their heads because of the uncontrollable crowd. Police claimed they are undermanned and people are really hardheaded and disobeyed the orders. So where are the church officials who made an assurance that the faithful will obey their policy on social distancing? Although in fairness to authorities and church officials, they were able to control those who attended the mass inside the church because they set up barriers installed with one seat apart. But outside, they miserably failed to control the huge crowd. Police were forced to out up barricades and close the roads near church premises and strictly screened and drove away mass-goers if church premises were already full.
We have still a couple of days before the Misa de Gallo ends. Will our authorities just leave these scenario as is because they cannot control the crowd? If that is the case, we can really expect that by January, there will be a resurgence of Covid-19 cases. And we will blame it on the IATF for allowing the holding of Misa de Gallo.
Again, I cannot understand the implementation of the IATF on health protocols. It is strict in some ways, but very relaxed in other ways. Just imagine, it banned karaoke and videoke sessions even among family members because of possible infection through “talsik laway” (spread of saliva), but it allows major mass gathering like the Misa de Gallo. If there will be a surge in Covid-19 cases, again, blame it on the IATF.
Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Josefino Ligas should stop this style of Christmas gift-giving on selective prospective receivers. I know that their intention is good considering it’s Christmas and it’s a time for sharing. It’s a “prank,” but their style of giving is not good. Dubbed as “Aresto Aguinaldo,” the police are giving gifts to selected individuals. But before they will give the gift, recipients are threatened first with arrest to the extent of handcuffing them. The police will read and serve them a “warrant of arrest” and inform them of their rights that they “committed a criminal offense.”
Shocked by the “arrest,” the individual will be surprised when the police will then sing a Christmas song and hand him a gift. Of course, who won’t be shocked if that will happen to you? What if the supposed receiver has a heart problem and he/she will suffer a heart attack right there? Will the police accept full responsibility for the incident?
No less than the PNP hierarchy and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) central office criticized the way the police give Christmas gifts, saying “serving an arrest warrant must not be made a laughing matter and should always be carried out with due process and in the name of the rule of law.” If they want to give gifts, give it without doing some “gimmick” that would shock their receivers. Does the end justify the means? They should better stop it.