PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday said they are preparing for the forthcoming observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day more than a week from now, the 2nd year ‘Undas’ will be observed by Filipinos amid the pandemic brought about by COVID-19 and its more deadly variants.
The top cop said early security preparations have been proven effective in ensuring the safety of the public on big events that include the Undas on November 1 and 2.
“Ngayon pa lang ay inatasan ko na ang ating mga unit commanders na simulan ng paghandaan ang mga seguridad na ilalatag sa darating na All Saint’s and All Soul’s Day sa susunod na buwan,” he said.
“Inaasahan ko ang ating mga chiefs of police ay makikipag-ugnayan ng maaga sa kani-kanilang mga local government units upang pagplanuhan ang mga patakarang ipapatupad sa mga sementeryo, memorial parks at columbarium lalo na at nasa gitna pa tayo ng pandemya,” he added.
The PNP chief also reminded the public to plan ahead and check the regulations that will be implemented in their respective local government units in relation to visiting cemeteries this year.
Last year, some LGUs closed down cemeteries and memorial parks on November 1 and 2 in anticipation of the influx of people amid the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Some LGUs, on the other hand, implemented visiting schedules in order to ensure that the observation of Undas would not turn into a super spreader event.
Gen. Eleazar said that on the days that visits to cemeteries will be allowed, police would strictly monitor the entry of people and strictly implement minimum public health safety standards to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and its more deadly variants.
“Nagawa na natin ito noong nakaraang taon kaya’t nasisiguro kong magagampanan ulit nang maayos ng ating kapulisan ang kanilang tungkulin sa panahon ng Undas,” Gen. Eleazar said.
Metro Manila mayors agreed to close public cemeteries and memorial parks in last year’s ‘Undas’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a first at least in recent history in the country where millions of Catholics regularly troop to burial sites of relatives to pray for the dead and hold family reunions too.
The decision was made to avoid unnecessary mass gatherings that could turn into ‘super spreaders’ of the virus.
Cemeteries are usually crowded during All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and thus could be a source of a surge of COVID-19 cases, thus the need to close them during the first week of November.
Over 135,000 policemen and their ‘force multipliers’ were usually deployed in previous ‘Undas’ commemorations although the new normal is expected to reduce the number of officers and other peacekeepers in cemeteries, memorial parks and columbarium.
In the past, police guarding the entrances of memorial parks and public cemeteries strictly enforced the ban on the carrying of firearms, bladed weapons, alcoholic drinks, playing cards and videoke machines.
Around 1.5 million to two million people usually visit cemeteries in Metro Manila especially Manila’s North Cemetery, the country’s biggest every November 1of the year.