Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Friday reiterated his order to close all cemeteries and columbariums in the city to visitors during the All Souls Day holiday or “Undas.”
He said this would avoid the congregation of an approximate 2.3 million persons inside these resting places amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The mayor appealed to all those who have to visit their loved ones on “Undas” to avoid doing so at the last minute, as the October 31 effectivity of the closure of all cemeteries and columbariums in Manila is nearing.
Domagoso urged the public to begin visiting their dead loved ones anytime until October 30.
Manila North Cemetery director Roselle Castaneda said there are 105,837 tombs inside its cemetery, which receive an average of 1.5 million visitors every November 1 and 2.
At the Manila South Cemetery, director Jess Payad said the number of tombs reach 39,228, with more than 800,000 visitors during the same period.
Domagoso said he made the announcement early precisely to give the public more than enough time to pay their dearly departed a visit and avoid the usual surge that occurs during “Undas.”
Domagoso ordered the closure of the cemeteries and columbariums in the city from October 31 to November 3.
The move of Domagoso, being replicated all over the country, was aimed at doing away with crowds gathering all in the same place at the same time. That would put the public at risk of getting infected with the coronavirus since huge gatherings are among the best ways to help virus transmission, he said.
According to Domagoso, beating the deadline might result in those not being able to pay their departed loved ones a visit, since the number of people who will be allowed inside the cemeteries and columbariums will be regulated more strictly as their closure draws near, in compliance with health protocols.
The mayor stressed that shutting down the final resting places in the city will not serve its purpose if the crowds would surge on the last few days of October.
The mayor said his order to close down the public and private cemeteries and columbariums in Manila during “Undas” will only be cancelled if the number of coronavirus cases in the city becomes zero or if the vaccine or medicine against the virus is already available in the country.
“Patawarin ninyo ako kung sakaling masaktan ko ang inyong damdamin na hindi makita ang mahal sa buhay sa panahon na ‘yun (Undas) pero inaagapan namin… may mga panahon at oras na di natin kailangang magsiksikan at pumila para bumisita. Hinihingi ko ang pang-unawa ninyo..para sa kaligtasan ng lahat,” he said.
“Pag bumuti ang sitwasyon sa pandemya, na-zero na, wala nang kaso pagdating ng October 31, akin pong babawiin ang EO. Kung sakali naman at dumating ang vaccine by October 30, akin rin po itong kakanselahin,” the mayor added.