Editorial: Alcohol-free Sinulog?

CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has signed an executive order (EO) that prohibits the selling and drinking of liquor within 300 meters of the Sinulog parade route. Also banned are loudspeakers and, obviously, shows, concerts and similar activities, again within 300 meters of the parade route. The signing of the EO is meant to show the mayor’s determination to see through his plan.

The order is not without precedent, though. Former mayor Michael Rama talked about a similar ban when he was mayor. Even Osmeña talked about it last year. The difference this time around is the loudness of the threat issued against firms that violate the order. Considering Osmeña’s temperament, that should force owners of concerned establishments to toe the line.

That is no assurance, however, that the Sinulog grand parade would be alcohol-free. Previous attempts to implement the same ban failed miserably for one reason: the utter lack of personnel to implement it. While establishments are vulnerable to threats of closure if they violate the mayor’s order, individuals are not easily cowed. Who can prevent people from drinking liquor when law enforcers are busy attending to the more important concerns of security and crowd control?

Not only that. The practice in previous Sinulog festivities has always been for those tasked to maintain order during the parade to abandon their posts after the activity, causing chaos especially in parade routes when vehicles and people take over the previously closed streets. No wonder that hooliganism and drunkenness become visible in the hours immediately after the end of the parade.

The mayor did issue the order but how to ensure its compliance has not been talked about. Still, the grand parade is a few days away and there is time to map out its implementation. But if the order won’t actually result in an alcohol-free Sinulog, the hope is that it would at least lessen instances of drunkenness and hooliganism before, during and after the parade.

Let it not be said that the Sinulog has so become big that maintaining order on that day would already be impossible to do.
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