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Pasig, Marikina won’t reopen cinemas even under MGCQ

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Feb 20, 2021 3:34 pm Updated Feb 20, 2021 3:45 pm

Cinemas in Pasig and Marikina will remain nonoperational even if Metro Manila relaxes its quarantine restrictions.

Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto and Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro announced it after Inter-Agency Task Force has allowed movie theaters, parks, museums, and churches to reopen at up to 50% capacity by Feb. 15.

Although the opening of cinemas was later deferred to Mar. 1, the two local government leaders maintained their position in implementing stringent precautions for the well-being of their constituents.

“Definitely for now at least, we will keep the cinemas closed here in our city. We consult the experts in everything that we do. For me, a lot of talks have gone on about GCQ, MGCQ, but for me, it doesn’t matter what you call it. What matters is what are the actual policies and ways.” Sotto told CNN Philippines..

Sotto emphasized that although there is a need to regain the economy, especially in Pasig where “five percent of businesses have closed,” his city does not want to risk its gains in the fight against the pandemic 

“One thing is certain, we do need to open up the economy slowly, the keyword here is slowly, but it also need to be gradually—slowly and gradually—because we’ve seen how the lockdown has affected the economy. People have lost jobs, people are growing hungry. In Pasig alone, five percent of businesses have closed,” the mayor said. “But obviously, we have to balance that with protecting our gains when it comes to fighting COVID.”

Meanwhile, Teodoro said that his executive order stalling the operations of malls and cinemas in Marikina had backing from their owners. 

“When I consulted the movie operators, cinema operators and mall owners, here in Marikina, they agreed with the local government, for our cinemas, movie houses to remain closed at this point in time. I even issued an executive order on that matter,” Teodoro said in an interview on ANC.

“This is our problem, during MGCQ, cinemas would be open, so what would happen to that executive order? In our case, we will remain to implement the said executive order,” Teodoro continued. “Because based on our consultation with stakeholders, they are in agreement with us.”

It was, in fact, a way to prevent further losses in the industry hit hard by the pandemic, according to Teodoro.

“Sabi nila [cinema owners] baka mas maraming problema kung magkaroon ng Covid case at nalaman doon nagsimula sa sinehan nila. Maapektuhan ang buong operation ng malls because the cinema is located in a mall,” he said, adding, “For public confidence, konti lang pumupunta sa mall. Baka ang discussion na ito ay moot. Who will watch a movie under the threat of Covid-19? Bakit ‘di ka na lang magNetflix?”

Aside from Sotto and Teodoro, Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia, Jr. said that the other 15 mayors of Metro Manila remain hesitant in reopening movie houses although they voted for easing of quarantine next month.

According to Garcia, the city managers are planning to come up with guidelines decreasing the allowed seating capacity of cinemas from 50 percent to “20 to 30 percent.” 

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez added in the same briefing that out of all the cinemas in areas under MGCQ, only 27% have resumed operations. “There are around 500 plus cinemas in MGCQ areas. In the end, they have the option not to open the 500 plus. Only 148 opened among cinemas in MGCQ,” he said.