Under ECQ lockdown, Cebu City brgy holds religious procession
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Throngs of devotees converged on the streets on late Saturday afternoon to join the procession and Sinulog street presentation in honor of the Holy Child Jesus.
The problem, however, is that the city is under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and the activity happened in a village that was included among the 12 barangays where cases of COVID-19 were high.
Police officials here have launched an investigation to find out who authorized the fiesta activities in Sitio Alumnos, Barangay Basak San Nicolas on Saturday despite the strict lockdown imposed by authorities to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
Brigadier General Albert Ignatius Ferro, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said he instructed the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to closely look into the incident that caught the village officials and policemen by surprise.
“We want to know how this incident happened,” the police general said.
Barangay San Nicolas is 2nd on the list of 12 villages in Cebu City and has been on strict lockdown due to high cases of COVID-19. The barangay has 130 COVID-19 cases – 109 of these were considered active, as of June 26, according to the CCPO.
Yet, hundreds of people gathered on the streets on June 27 in Sitio Alumnos on Saturday, to celebrate the fiesta that included a procession and street dancing in honor of Señor Sto. Niño.
Barangay Basak San Nicolas officials ordered a probe to find out who was behind the activities and how it happened when residents were supposed to stay inside their village.
In a statement posted on their Facebook page, village officials said they, including Barangay Basak San Nicolas Captain Norman Navarro, did not authorize any public activity, including a procession and Sinulog dance presentation.
“We will summon the organizers since what they did violate the ECQ. They risked the lives of their neighbors who complied with the regulations and those who have made sacrifices not to leave their homes for months now,” they said in Cebuano.
“We know that the activity was for the Sto. Niño but we try to avoid any mass gathering especially that the COVID-19 cases are rising. We should just pray inside our homes. We are in the midst of a pandemic and we are appealing for your understanding, help, and cooperation because all of us are part of the solution,” they added.
Cebu City south district Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr. denounced the gathering and called on authorities to take appropriate legal actions against those who organized the fiesta activities.
“This (activity) is completely unacceptable. Cases should be filed against the organizers of the dance performance that caused the gathering of residents in the area. To the organizers, because of what you did, a lot of lives were put at risk,” he said in a post on Facebook.
Last June 15, President Duterte decided to put Cebu City under ECQ again due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases as well as the city’s problem to provide critical healthcare assistance to patients.
In a televised address to the nation, the President called out Cebuanos for not heeding the health protocols aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, saying people here were “hard-headed” and “too complacent.”
As of June 27, the Department of Health recorded 5,598 COVID-19 cases in Cebu City where 3,116 were “active,” 2,326 recoveries, and 156 deaths.
At least 1,539 persons were admitted in the different hospitals while 1,577 were isolated in the different quarantine facilities.
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