President Duterte has sought the understanding of the Roman Catholic faithful following the National Task Force’s decision to suspend this year’s “traslacion” or the annual procession of the Black Nazarene.

SUPER-SPREADER EVENT–A typical traslacion of the image of the Black Nazarene. (File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

“I apologize in advance and I beg your full understanding of what we have discussed,” Duterte said during his “Talk to the People” public briefing on late Tuesday night, Jan. 4.

“Kung nakinig ang Roman Catholic Church (If the Roman Catholic Church is listening), I am now appealing to you to forego and cancel physical gatherings including the procession and the celebration of mass sa (in the) church,” he said.

“Sana maintindihan ako ng Roman Catholic (I hope the Roman Catholic understands me) that all gatherings are not allowed…You have to forego with the procession sa Black Nazarene, including sa (in the) church. Kasi marami yung (Because there are a lot of) devotees I said, and if you deprive them of the procession, they might want to go there to just pray to the Black Nazarene,” Duterte further said.

“I believe in God, walang problema yan (There’s problem there). But I have to do things which I hate to do, pero kailangan gawin ko pati sa trabaho ko (but I need to do it and also my job). And this is not my decision. This is culled from the so many views and opinions from several doctors,” he underscored.

The President made this appeal amid the worrisome new surge in daily coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections that was purportedly triggered by the Omicron variant.

This year’s Black Nazarene procession was supposed to take place on Jan. 9.

In the briefing, Duterte noted how important the traslascion is to its Catholic devotees, but said that the government must prevent “super-spreader” events from taking place.

“I’m referring now to this super spreader na–let me just cite the Metro Manila Roman Catholics, you must understand that this is really not [to] intrude into your activities but the Roman Catholic kasi every year naagkakaroon ng procession na (every year they hold the procession of the) Black Nazarene and sometimes yung mga attendees na pumupunta doon (the attendees there ) would reach a million mark or even plus-plus.

“Itong procession na ito (This procession), it’s a very important event for the Roman Catholic Church. Now, I have to appeal to them for their understanding and to really look at it in the broader context of our liability or so to the people if we do not act correctly or fail to come up with measures to protect a public interest and public health,” Duterte noted.

The Chief Executive further said: “There are millions of devotees there. You cannot just be complacent about the transmission of the disease.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (