‘More security personnel, venues needed for Misa de Gallo’
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Too many people wanted to attend the mass, but there were too few security personnel to help maintain health protocols and too few venues celebrating Misa de Gallo.
This was the assessment of Cebu City Councilor David Tumulak, the city council’s chairperson for the committee on disaster risk reduction, for the first day of the Misa de Gallo here on December 16, 2020.
Tumulak said that all 35 churches in the city drew at least a thousand individuals each, with the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño drawing the most crowd up to more than 3,000, on the first day.
The councilor was concerned with the eagerness of people to attend the masses due to the restrictions to religious activities in the past year brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 700 marshalls deployed by the city, including police and augmentation forces, could only control the distance of the people, but could no longer disperse the entire crowd as people insisted on attending the masses even on the streets surrounding the church.
“Tanan gyong simbahan daghan kaayo tawo.(All churches had a lot of people.) We need more volunteers to guide the parishioners. We urge the barangays to extend their efforts,” said Tumulak.
The councilor said the most challenging aspect of the Misa de Gallo are families bringing their children and groups of minors managing to skirt through authorities.
The city government has no directive to the police to arrest these insisting parents as Mayor Edgardo Labella asked for maximum tolerance from the police force.
However, this tolerance led to children being brought to the churches and even though they could not enter, they were still among the crowd attending the mass outside the church gates.
The crowd of minors is a concern as they are vulnerable to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Tumulal once again appeal to parents to leave their children at home, or better watch the livestream together in their homes to avoid the church crowd.
“Wala lagi daw silay kabinlan. If walay kabinlan, magtan-aw nalang sa livestream,” said Tumulak.
Furthermore, Tumulak said the crowding was brought by the refusal of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to approve the use of sports complexes and other open spaces for Misa de Gallo, as proposed by the barangays to divide the crowd.
“Tungod kay wala nila sugti magmisa sa mga open spaces ug complexes, nidasok na nuon ang mga tawo sa simbahan. Dako unta kaayo tog tabang if nadivide ang mga parishioners sa lain-laing venues,” said Tumulak.
(Because they didn’t allow the holding of masses in open spaces and complexes, people flocked to the churches. It would have been a big help if parishioners were divided into different venues.)
Despite the crowd, the councilor said the first day has been generally peaceful as no untoward incident occured. He appealed to the public to maintain social distancing and follow other health protocols when attending the Misa de Gallo.
As for the impact of today’s dawn masses to the spread of the COVID-19, Councilor Tumulak said that remains to be seen.
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