AMID the continuing spike of coronavirus infections in the country and in reiteration of health and safety protocols which include barring mass gatherings, President Rodrigo Duterte appealed to the Catholic Church to forgo any public celebrations.

This includes the Traslacion, or the Feast of the Black Nazarene, which annually draws hundreds of thousands, if not millions, Forgo mass gatherings of devotees to the streets of Manila.

"There are millions of devotees there and you cannot just be complacent about the transmission of the disease. Sana maintindihan ako ng (I hope I will be understood by the) Roman Catholic (Church) that all gatherings are not allowed," Duterte said in his weekly 'Talk to The People' public briefing late Tuesday night, asking for the public's understanding as the country continues to grapple with the pandemic and the threat of the virus' Omicron variant.

"Kung nakinig ang Roman Catholic Church (if the Roman Catholic Church is listening), I am now appealing to you to forgo and cancel all physical gatherings including the procession and the celebration of mass. Now I have to appeal to them for their understanding and look at it in the broader context of our liability to the people if we do not act correctly," he added.

The City Government of Manila last November had announced the suspension of the Traslacion due to the still present threat of Covid-19.

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Instead, the procession will be ""done through a motorcade in selected areas" of the capital.

However, it has yet to be announced if the initial plan will still push through due to the recent surge of coronavirus infections in the city.