ALL cemeteries in the National Capital Region would be closed for a week from late October to early November to prevent crowds from gathering in public and private cemeteries, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said on Monday.
MMDA General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia Jr. said majority of local chief executives in Metro Manila were inclined to temporarily shut down cemeteries “four days before All Saints’ Day and three days after, or vice versa.”
It will be the first time that cemeteries will be closed. Filipinos have for decades followed the tradition of visiting their departed loved ones in their resting place on November 1 and 2.
“Most of the Metro Manila mayors requested for [the] one-week [closure of cemeteries],” Garcia said in a virtual press briefing.
The Metro Manila Council proposed to close cemeteries from October 28 to November 4.
But the date was not yet final, Garcia said, because the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases would decide when to shut down cemeteries.
“The [cemeteries] will be closed so people could not come in, but if it’s for burial, cremation or other regular activities, that’s definitely allowed,” he added.
Garcia said local officials agreed to close cemeteries “because we know that this is a tradition where people gather in huge numbers at once.”
“But the situation right now is different because of the pandemic,” he added.
The Department of Health (DoH) lauded the move to close cemeteries.
“Kapag Undas, ang mga tao, siksikan sa sementeryo (On All Saints’ Day, huge crowds converge in cemeteries) and that is mass gathering already, and we would like to prevent that,” Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
She added that the DoH might recommend that all cemeteries in the country be shut down.
WITH RED MENDOZA