Davao City to proceed with decades-old gift giving tradition, but not in Duterte ancestral home

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 December) – The decades-old gift-giving tradition of the local government of Davao will push through this year, but it will no longer be done at the ancestral house of President Rodrigo R. Duterte along Taal Road, Central Park Subdivision in Barangay Bangkal on December 25, to avoid mass gathering, Mayor Sara Duterte said.

During her live interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Monday, the mayor revealed that barangay officials have been directed to take the lead in the distribution of around 38,000 grocery packs from December 17 to 23 in lieu of the Christmas Day gift-giving tradition to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the city.

She said the local government sought guidance from the Office of the President last Friday.

“There will be no distribution in Taal. There will be no gathering in Taal because if we base our numbers last year, at least 30,000 people are expected to come. The apprehension of our health and security groups is that if we have 30,000 people, distancing cannot be enforced,” Duterte said.

“We can make mandatory the wearing of face masks or face shields, but with this huge crowd, distancing will be compromised,” she added.

Duterte said the 38,000 grocery packs have been divided among the city’s 182 barangays.

“The distribution will be with the barangays, which will identify the individuals who are most in need of the grocery packs… this is a tradition from the late 1980s or early 1990s, and people get used to (the city government’s) gift-giving every December 25,” she said.

As of December 13, the Department of Health-Davao reported a total of 10,818 COVID-19 cases in the region, with 2,422 active, 7,976 recoveries and 420 deaths.

Of the total cases, Davao City reported 7,566, Davao de Oro with 534, Davao del Norte with 1,308, Davao del Sur with 800, Davao Occidental with 122 and Davao Oriental with 488.

Duterte noted that the city must watch out for another surge after the Christmas season due to mass gatherings to celebrate the occasion.

She reminded Dabawenyos to avoid attending Christmas parties to prevent exposure to the coronavirus, and to celebrate the holidays only with family members who live in the same household.

Davao City reverted to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from Modified GCQ on November 20 to 30, and has been extended until the end of this year.