Pandemic forces Mayor Sara to suspend traditional gift-giving event

Visitors drop by the house of then presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte on May 14, 2016. MindaNews file photo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 December) – Mayor Sara Duterte has “put on hold” the Christmas Day gift-giving tradition at the ancestral house of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in Davao City as a precautionary measure to prevent more COVID-19 infections.

During her live interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) Duterte said local government offices tasked to prepare for the event were wary that basic health protocols may not be properly observed.

Thousands of Dabawenyos are expected to troop to the president’s ancestral house on Taal Road, Central Park Subdivision in Barangay Bangkal if the event would push through.

“We have a plan for that but it is put on hold because there is recommendation from the inter-office who is preparing for that December 25 event in Taal that COVID-19 health protocols may not be possibly implemented,” Duterte said.

She said the city was awaiting directives from the national government.

“We already submitted it high above the Davao City LGU on what direction we should take regarding that. We are awaiting response on that matter,” she said.

She added the local government is nonetheless prepared to push through with the event if given the go-signal.

“Has it been planned? Are we ready? We are ready. But if that will be pushed through, that decision is not yet final. We are waiting for that one answer. It is above city government because the decision is with the national government,” she said.

Last Oct. 19, Duterte said the city government would prepare 10,000 gift packs.

“We still have traditional and yearly grocery pack distribution. We are still figuring out how we can carry that out while making sure protocols are implemented because our expectation is that there will be around 10,000 people who will flock to Taal in Bangkal,” she said then.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has prohibited mass gatherings, which are perceived as a “super-spreader” of COVID-19.

Davao City reverted to a General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from Modified GCQ from Nov. 20 supposedly until Nov. 30, but was extended until the end of this year.

As of Dec. 10, Department of Health-Davao reported a total of 10,432 cases in the region, with 2,793 active ones, 7,237 recoveries, and 402 deaths.

Of the total cases, Davao City reported 7,319, Davao de Oro 480, Davao del Norte 1,271, Davao del Sur 767, Davao Occidental 122 and Davao Oriental 473. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)