Quiapo Church officials defend devotees over protocol violations

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    CHURCH officials and police officers were quick to act on the momentary violation of physical distancing protocols by devotees during last Saturday’s Feast of the Black Nazarene celebration, officials of the Quiapo Church said yesterday as they defended devotees for their lapses.

    Quiapo Church Parochial Vicar Fr. Douglas Badong appealed to the public in an interview to be more understanding of the actions of some of the devotees who were caught in cameras and photographs crowding each other as they wait for their turn to get inside or near the Church premises.

    “Indeed, there are such incidents that they momentarily forgot. But that’s understandable because this is the first time this kind of celebration is being done,” said Badong.

    Similarly, Quiapo Church Rector Msgr. Hernando Coronel said the short-lived lapse was quickly addressed by church officials as well as by the Manila police.

    “There was a build-up of people in some areas. But we addressed that within the hour. We were able to remedy the situation,” said Coronel.

    On Saturday, photos and videos of devotees crowding during the feast of the Black Nazarene in areas within the vicinity of the Quiapo Church became viral.

    The incident alarmed the Department of Health (DOH) as it violated one of the basic health protocols against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which is physical distancing.

    Nevertheless, Badong said they agree with the recommendations of the DOH for devotees who went to Quiapo Church last Saturday to closely monitor their health.

    “There is nothing wrong with the suggestion to do self-quarantine for those who visited here. If that is their opinion as medical experts, we will respect that,” said the priest, adding: “It would be good for them to be observant of their health and monitor possible symptoms in the coming days.”

    What’s more important, the church officials said, is that a large majority of devotees were able to adhere to the restrictions implemented during the feast of the Black Nazarene.

    “We are very happy because the devotees exhibited self-discipline, orderliness, and (a) systematic way of entering the church. By and large, we respected the health protocols,” said Coronel.

    “We saw that the devotees are disciplined, patiently waited, practiced distancing. They showed they tried their best to follow the protocols,” said Badong.

    Even Manila Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo welcomed the actions of the devotees physically present in Quiapo.

    “The discipline of the devotees is truly remarkable. They expressed their devotion by coming even at great sacrifice but they are very considerate of the protocols and very patient indeed,” said Pabillo.