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Lack of coordination puts Sinulog 2021 in limbo

CDN Digital Multi-Media Reporter, Delta Dyrecka Letigio January 06,2021 - 09:24 PM

The winning photo of Ed Kirby Bun-an in the 2020 Sinulog Photo Contest. | contributed photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The seeming lack of coordination between the Sinulog 2021 organizers and the Interagency Task Force (IATF) represented by the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Cebu City has put the festival in limbo.

The EOC has recommended to the IATF a pre-filmed Sinulog showcase instead of a grand parade as originally planned by the Sinulog Foundation Incorporated (SFI) for January 17, 2021.

EOC deputy chief implementor, Councilor Joel Garganera, said they were not on board with the planning of the Sinulog 2021 and were “never consulted” for the grand affair.

If they were consulted, he would have already suggested that the participants be placed in a bubble environment during practice.

Instead, the contingents were practicing without much monitoring leading to a suspected case in one of the participants, and possibly endangering the entire contingent.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama, on the other hand, said the EOC was invited four times since December 2020 but has never convened with the SFI and the organizers of the Sinulog 2021.

Rama, the overall convenor for the Sinulog 2021, is asking why the EOC is only criticizing the plan now, 11 days before the event.

“Why now? They should have given that suggestion before. There is no need for an invitation, we are one government,” said Rama.

Yet it is not only the EOC that has seemingly felt by-passed by the organizers of the Sinulog as the police have expressed their strong dissent over the grand parade shortly after the New Year.

The police claimed that they were not informed that such a crowd-gathering activity would push through and the IATF has not approved of the activity as well, casting doubts as to whether the police should even support the event.

Read: RIATF-7 yet to convene for fate of Sinulog 2021

Councilor Philip Zafra has taken the side of the police, being the City Council’s committee on peace and order, over the matter and said he does not agree on the holding of a street parade with or without an audience.

He said the lack of coordination between the Sinulog organizers and other stakeholder agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) has placed the activity in a tight situation.

The PNP reiterated their stand that without an IATF approval, they will not provide security to the event, lest they face legal consequences of condoning a violative activity in the middle of a health pandemic.

Yet for Rama, it is the job of the police to serve the city’s populace regardless of the event. The police should provide security to a city-sanctioned event such as Sinulog.

Mayor Edgardo Labella is also apprehensive especially with the new strain of the coronavirus threatening another global wave.

The mayor has expressed support and trust to Rama over the organizing of the Sinulog but has also emphasized his obedience to the IATF should the agency prohibit the Sinulog.

If the IATF gives no denial nor approval, Labella said the Sinulog 2021 will go as planned and he will personally order the police to provide security to the event whether the police agree or not.

As a precaution, the mayor ordered all contingents to be swabbed prior to the event to identify any transmission present among the participants. It is not clear if a positive case would prompt the mayor to stop the grand parade.

“That is a good suggestion, we can cover the cost of the swab test. I believe they should be tested,” said the mayor.

Amid the circus over the Sinulog 2021, the Department of Interior and Local Government in Central Visayas (DILG-7) has put its foot down saying that the activity cannot push through without the approval of the IATF.

In a recent statement, DILG-7 said that the regional IATF has not convened over Sinulog yet, but their decision and the final decision of the national IATF will be the determinant for the fate of the Sinulog 2021.

The EOC has recently submitted their recommendation, it is now up to the IATF to seal the Sinulog’s fate in the next few days. /rcg



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TAGS: Cebu City, COVID-19, Emergency Operations Center, Interagency Task Force, Sinulog Festival, Vice Mayor Michael Rama

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