Caretakers at the Davao Memorial Park (DMP), the city’s biggest and first cemetery designed as a park, observed that fewer families visited the place last weekend compared to three years ago when the park was already teeming with visitors putting up tents a week before November 1 and 2, respectively.
Roel Clavicilla, an officer at the DMP, said they noticed the drop in number of visitors when the city government started strict implementation of policies banning liquor, smoking and gambling in the cemeteries in 2003.
Since then, he said, visitors gambling, drinking and playing loud music in the cemeteries have significantly decreased.
“I like what’s happening now. The cemetery is less congested and incidents of brawls also fell,” Clavacilla said.
All Saints and All Souls Day liquor ban was actually imposed by the city government through City Council Resolution 6071 and Ordinance No. 1694 as early as 1994 but was only strictly implemented the last three years.
The city ordinance says “selling and drinking of liquor during this normally solemn and quiet celebration has definitely dampened the spirit of the occasion as they are often marred by violent incidents, sometimes resulting in death brought about by people under the influence of liquor.”
Violators of the ordinance are fined P2,000 or penalized with a three-month imprisonment as decreed by the courts.
Barangay chair Renato Gatchalian, whose Barangay 8-A village along Fr. Selga Street and Madapo Hills covers six private and public cemeteries, said they also do not expect bigger turn out of visitors compared to past years but will strictly enforce bans on liquor, gambling and smoking in their areas of responsibility.
Gatchalian said village officials and a contingent of 41 security guards will be aiding the police in securing the cemeteries and enforcing the bans round the clock from October 31 to November 2.
Gatchalian also said they will also be on the look-out for members of teenage gangs which have been using cemeteries, in particular the Roman Catholic Cemetery as a place for meeting and rioting with rival gangs.
He said that in the past six months, barangay security guards have arrested and turned over to the police several teenage gang members who have been hanging out in the cemeteries from midnight to dawn.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday also reiterated his earlier warnings that all intoxicating drinks brought in or sold in cemeteries will be confiscated by the police while those caught disturbing the peace and the sanctity of the occasion will be arrested.
Duterte said, in particular, he will not tolerate persons smoking, gambling, making loud noise and playing videoke machines at ear-splitting levels.
“Maintain a little bit of discipline for yourself and your fellow human beings,” Duterte said in his regular Sunday television show, “Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa” (From the Masses, For the Masses) over ABS-CBN television station.
Duterte said these special days have a deep religious and spiritual meaning that must be respected and solemnly observed by visitors to the cemeteries.