DILG orders investigation on a village’s Sinulog in Cebu

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DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano during the Rappler Talk Interview at the PNP GHQ In Quezon City. September 18, 2019. Photo by Gerard Carreon/Rappler

CEBU CITY – Interior Secretary Eduardo Año orders the Cebu City Police Office to investigate and if possible, file appropriate charges against organizers of a street dance locally known as “Sinulog” and religious procession in Sitio Alumnos in Barangay Basak San Nicolas, Cebu City for violation of the Bayanihan to Heal Act because of Covid-19 pandemic.

Last week President Rodrigo Duterte cited stubbornness as among the bad traits of Cebuanos that resulted to the unprecedented rise of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Cebu City.  

Cebu became the new epicenter of Covid-19 in the country that prompted the president to send Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu on June 15 to tame the people and to enforce the enhanced community quarantine lockdown in selected cities and villages in the province.  

 As of June 29, Cebu Province recorded 8,163 cases—5,794 in Cebu City, 748 in Mandaue City, 567 in Lapu-Lapu City, and 1,054 in other areas in the province. Basak San Nicolas, as of June 28, had 82 active cases of Covid-19, 45 recoveries, and 11 deaths.

Año also ordered officials of Barangay Basak San Nicolas to explain why they should not be charged administratively for allowing the gathering while the city was under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and with the village identified as among 12 Covid-19 hot spots here.

The village version of “Sinulog” was held during the fiesta of Sitio Alumnos, which was participated in by hundreds of people despite the ECQ prohibition against mass gatherings. Sinulog is a colorful dance ritual that commemorates the Cebuanos’ pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity particularly their devotion to Santo Niño. A bigger and most popular version of Sinulog is held in Cebu City in January to celebrate the feast of the baby Jesus.

Police Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro, director of the Central Visayas police, said nine barangay officials and five organizers may have violated provisions of Republic Act No. 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

On Monday, PNP Chief Archie Gamboa also ordered the police office to apprehend without warning all violators of the quarantine law especially in hot spot areas in the city to show that they mean business in fighting against the pandemic.