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By: Vanessa Almeda | Published Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Through Executive Order 17-F, Gov. Gwen Garcia encourages the holding of religious gatherings, such as the Holy Mass, in Cebu Province, subject to public health protocols. (File Photo)

Emphasizing the need to maintain spiritual health amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cebu Provincial Government encourages the holding of religious gatherings in the entire province.

Governor Gwendolyn issued Executive Order 17-F after meeting with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma on the Church’s plan to hold masses again.

Masses will be held with 50 percent of the church capacity and subject to social distancing and other health protocols that the Church will implement.

“In as much as we need our physical and mental health, we also need our spiritual health. Ug sayod kita sa atong mga kalungsuran, sa atong mga kaigsonan didto sa probinsiya dako kaayo nga factor ang atong pagtuo sa Ginoo, ang atong pagsalig sa Ginoo ug ang atong pagpangita nga makaadto gyud ta sa simbahan aron maka-attend gyud ta og misa,” Garcia said.

After consultation meetings with the governor last month, other religious groups and denominations also agreed to resume their mass services in a 50-percent capacity. 

Garcia emphasized that with the Constitutional provision on the separation of the Church and the State, she can only “encourage” the Church to hold masses, not “permit.” 

“I'm not saying I am permitting ha kay dili na, wa ko ana, there's separation of church and state. I respect that,” she said.

“Suffice it to say, as far as Cebu and province and this governor is concerned, we are strongly encouraging the holding of religious activities. Gikinahanglan ni sa atong katawhan sa Sugbo,” the governor added.

From the start, Garcia had always recognized the Church’s role in the fight against Covid-19 which later escalated into a “fear pandemic” among the public. They will always be part of her consultative meetings before issuing any directives related to Covid-19.

Before declaring Cebu under an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until its transition to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status in mid-May, the governor met with religious leaders to discuss Capitol’s plans of action and encouraged them to heed state regulations. 

In response, churches put their activities on hold and conducted masses online. “Kay nirespeto sad ang simbahan sa paningkamot sa gobyerno nga maprotektahan ang mga Sugboanon,” she said. (Vanessa L. Almeda)