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Archdiocese of Manila to hold religious services, as Palace warns they will close churches that defy IATF ban

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Mar 23, 2021 9:18 pm

The government has threatened to shut down churches that will violate the ban on religious gatherings during the two-week bubble within the National Capital Region Plus set by the Inter-Agency Task Force, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Tuesday.

The palace’s statement came following Archdiocese of Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo’s pastoral instruction that the archdiocese will continue religious worship within churches at 10% capacity starting March 24, Wednesday, leading to the observance of Holy Week.

The pastoral instruction released on Tuesday also noted that there will be no religious activities outside the churches, including senakulo, pabasa, processions, motorcades and visita iglesia.

The Archdiocese of Manila covers Manila, Pasay City, Makati City, Mandaluyong City and San Juan City.

In an interview with Radyo Veritas, Pabillo said the IATF did not consult the church regarding the ban on religious gatherings during the NCR Plus bubble.

Dyan mali na sila at hindi dapat tayo sumunod sa ganiyang pamamalakad na walang konsultasyon and it somehow breaks the separation of church and state, sila ang nag-seseparate ngayon,” said Pabillo.

In a virtual press briefing Tuesday, Roque pointed out that the bishop seemingly encourages churchgoers to defy the health and safety measures set by the IATF.

“That will be contrary po to the decision of the IATF and we ask Bishop Pabillo not to encourage disregard of IATF rules. Ito naman po ay para sa kabutihan ng lahat,” he said, appealing to the bishop not to encourage non-compliance with IATF’s decision.

In response to Pabillo’s statement on separation of church and state, Roque said, “Defiance of an IATF resolution is not covered by separation of church and state. What is covered is the freedom to believe and the freedom not to endorse a religion.”

He added, “In the exercise of police powers, we can order the churches closed. Huwag sana pong dumating doon, Bishop Pabillo. Wala po tayong makakamit na kahit anong objective if you will defy and you will force the state to close the doors of the church.”

The archdiocese has yet to issue a statement on Roque's pronouncement.

The IATF prohibited mass gatherings, which include religious gatherings, in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal until April 4 to curb the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Banner and thumbnail image by Edd Gumban/The Philippine STAR