Pastor nabbed for holding a religious gathering with 500 members in CDO
Pastor arrested for violating ban on religious gathering in Cagayan de Oro amid COVID-19 crisis
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Police arrested a pastor and dispersed a religious gathering here on Sunday, April 5, 2020, for violating social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
Antonio Resma Jr., head of the Cagayan de Oro Regulatory Compliance Board (RCB), said more than 500 members of the Word of God Spirit and Life Ministries Inc., attended the religious event organized by their pastor at an old movie house in Capistrano Street this city.
“They were crowding themselves inside the old Rizal Theater in violation of the social distancing measures,” Resma said.
Resma said the police arrested the pastor identified as Alfred B. Caslam, 58, after he allegedly defied their orders to stop the religious gathering.
He said police brought Caslam to the Police Station 1 to wait for the filing of inquest and charges for disobeying persons of authority and non-cooperation during a public health crisis.
Resma said this was the second time they caught Caslam and his members for defying the community quarantine orders issued by Mayor Oscar Moreno on March 19.
“The police and RCB also came and warned Caslam not to hold any religious gatherings anymore,” he said.
Resma said they received information that Caslam and his members were holding their religious gathering at the old Rizal Theater house in Capistrano Street.
He said when they arrived a around 10:30 a.m. they saw a big crowd with children inside the old theater house.
“We checked and found the names of 495 members in their attendance lists. Many of them have their children with them,” Resma said.
He said the members peacefully dispersed and went out of the establishment after Caslam was handcuffed and brought to the police station.
Resma said they took the attendance list and made copies for the City Health Office to check the health status of the people in the list./dbs
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