Labella leaves fate of Sinulog cultural events to IATF

Philippine News Agency
January 6, 2021

SINULOG EVENTS. Devotees are beginning to flock to the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño to honor the Holy Child Jesus whose fiesta celebration will be on Jan. 17, 2021. Mayor Edgardo Labella on Wednesday (Jan. 6., 2021) said it is up to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to decide whether or not to allow the holding of non-religious or cultural events during the 2021 Sinulog in line with the Sto. Niño fiesta celebration. (PNA photo by John Rey Saavedra)

CEBU CITY – Mayor Edgardo Labella on Wednesday said he is waiting for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to decide whether or not to allow the holding of Sinulog cultural events here.

Labella issued the statement after the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) and the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) pushed for the cancellation of all the festival activities that are not purely religious and can draw huge crowds, which may pose a risk of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) transmission.

The mayor, however, said he will abide by the decision of the IATF if it will permit the conduct of cultural events even if they are designed by the Sinulog Foundation to be done using a virtual platform.

“In the meantime, I suggest to Vice Mayor Michael Rama to reach out to the police and the regional IATF and take necessary adjustments so that the concerns of the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) and City Health officials would be addressed,” Labella said in a press briefing at his office. "If the IATF cancels the Sinulog events, I will issue an order to that effect".

The EOC and city health department here raised the concern on the impossibility of physical distancing during Sinulog events. Labella said the EOC and medical health professionals saw the events as a possible venue of virus transmission.

Although adjustments could be discussed, Labella said the time is also critical considering that the EOC required the participants of Sinulog dancers to undergo reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing and be cleared of Covid-19 before they will be allowed to join the events.

As a variant of Covid-19 has been discovered in 21 countries while the national government is yet to acquire vaccines, Labella said “we need to be cautious”.

Rama on Tuesday said Sinulog events would push through with or without the support from the police.

Labella appointed Rama to oversee the conduct of Sinulog events which are mostly through the internet amid the ongoing threat of Covid-19.

But CCPO chief Col. Josefino Ligan on Tuesday said the IATF only allows religious activities in the Sto. Niño fiesta and asked the Sinulog Foundation to forego the cultural events. (PNA)

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