City hall stepped up health protocols in Cagayan de Oro ahead of the Holy Week, sealing off all major religious destinations, ordering some establishments closed, and even making river dipping a prohibited act in the city beginning Saturday, March 27.
Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno issued Executive Order 34-2021 on March 26, which said “taking a dip in rivers and other freshwater channels” is prohibited until April 4.
Asked if he thought the clause was vague and could be misinterpreted by law enforcers, Moreno said, “I trust them to think first” and “look at the EO not strictly and literally on the words written, but the spirit behind it.”
It was not the first time for Moreno to set a vague rule since the government resorted to strict public health rules due to the pandemic. Last year, he allowed ukay-ukay (used clothing) vendors to open their stores but set a no-touch policy in the establishments.
In the executive order, Moreno also ordered all beach resorts, amusement places and similar establishments closed down, and religious devotees to keep off major Holy Week destinations during the period. Religious processions have been prohibited.
The Malasag Stations of the Cross in Barangay Cugman alone attracted an average of 60,000 religious devotees every Holy Week before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to city hall spokesperson Maricel Casino-Rivera.
There are other major destinations in the city where thousands flock each year, during the Holy Week, like the Guadalupe Shrine that has its separate Stations of the Cross and the Camarahan Ridge that is famous for its breath-taking view.
But while Moreno ordered these religious destinations sealed off, he allowed churches to open and hold indoor religious services provided people observe minimum public health standards set by the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force.
Officials said city hall wants to ensure that minimum public health standards are followed and that crowding is avoided during the Holy Week to prevent a spike in COVID-19 infections in the city. – Rappler.com