THE Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) will not field personnel to help secure the City’s planned Sinulog 2021 activities unless the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases clearly allows the holding of the festival this year.
CCPO Director Col. Josefino Ligan said with the Covid-19 pandemic still ongoing, it would be risky for the Cebu City Government to proceed with the festivities as this could result in more coronavirus infections.
Ligan issued the statement after Vice Mayor Michael Rama, lead convenor of this year’s Sinulog, announced that the festivities will continue despite a recommendation from the Police Regional Office Central Visayas (PRO 7) to the Regional IATF (RIATF) not to proceed with the festival.
Ligan said the IATF will, most likely, not allow the Sinulog festivities to take place and will only permit the holding of the traditional nine-day novena masses at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino.
“No. We will not get involved. It’s like organizing without approval because basically the pandemic is still around. All the guidelines on the protocols, especially the health protocols, will be decided by the IATF, so that’s who we will follow,” Ligan said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
However, if the IATF allows this year’s Sinulog activities, then police will have no choice but to comply, Ligan said.
Around 500 police personnel are being prepared to assist the City in securing this year’s fiesta just in case it pushes through.
For his part, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said Sinulog activities will continue as scheduled for as long as the RIATF does not raise any objections.
Labella again called on the public to follow minimum health protocols, especially when attending novena masses.
“I urge everyone, if possible, to attend the novena masses online. God Almighty lives in our hearts, especially if our prayers are pure,” Labella said.
Street dancing at SRP
Meanwhile, Rama plans to ask the IATF to allow the Sinulog Festival to be held at the South Road Properties (SRP).
In a press conference to launch Sinulog 2021, Rama said there would be no need to cancel this year’s festivities since 99 percent of the activities will be held without an audience.
Rama urged law enforcement officials to instead help secure the Sinulog rather than recommend its cancellation.
As of Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, 22 dancing contingents have expressed their intent to join the festival.
Of the number, 19 are from Cebu City barangays while three are from Cebu Province.
The ritual showdown and street dancing competition will be held at the SRP on Jan. 17, said Rama.
Spectators will be prohibited, and the activities will be aired live online. (PAC, AYB /JKV)