Mayor Sara Duterte commended the move of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) to suspend religious activities in the city.
On March 16, the city government issued a warning against the INC after receiving reports that the congregation is violating the mass gathering protocol, as part of the community quarantine order.
For instance, the city mayor bared that she received reports that the religious organization is still continuing its regular services.
Duterte read a text message Tuesday night that the executives of the INC will be complying with the community quarantine imposed by the city government to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In an interview with Davao City Disaster Radio yesterday, Duterte read the text message as follows:
“Nais ko lang ipaalam tumawag na ang tagapangasiwa ng Iglesia maari po lamang attorney na iparating sa ating mahal na mayora na per abiso ng pamahalaang pangkalahatan kami po ay susunod sa mga alituntunin ng gobyerno at pansamantala po muna naming ipapatigil ang aming pagtipun- tipon sa bawat kapilya (I want to inform that the leaders of Iglesia have asked to relay the message to the mayor that we will comply with the guideline of the government and we will temporarily stop all gatherings in every chapel.)” the text message said.
Duterte said she is thankful that the INC leaders understood what the government is trying to do to protect the residents of Davao City.
“And I hope that they could also expand their suspension of mass gatherings in the entire Davao Region,” she said, adding that she’s also apologizing for being too harsh on them during the previous days.
She said the prohibition is not an infringement of their rights or free exercise of their religion, because they can still pray either at home or everywhere else, as long as they don’t do it in groups.
“We ask them to continue their prayers because we all need that actually right now. They can continue their prayers in other forms,” Duterte said.
Duterte said during a previous interview with the government-run radio that she would explore necessary legal actions should the INC continue to violate the order placing the entire city under community quarantine.
“So, if we cannot make the INC stop (their religious gatherings), we are still exploring what we can do (about) this on the legal side,” she said.
The community quarantine, which includes a guideline mandating the suspension of mass gatherings, including all religious services and faith-based activities, came about after President Rodrigo Duterte declared a public health emergency in the entire country.
“Before, we were only discouraging people not to go (to church gatherings). Now, because of the developing situation, we already directed the religious organizations to stop their religious ceremonies,” Duterte said.
“I just want to remind our Iglesia Ni Cristo brothers and sisters that your conduct of worship inside your church will not save you from the disease,” Mayor Duterte said.