Anti-vaccine pastor nabbed in CDO for holding prayer meetings amid ECQ

There is no queue outside SM CDO Downtown Premier in Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday, July 17, 2021, a day after the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) implemented the Enhanced Community Quarantine following the announcement that five cases of the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 had been detected in Cagayan de Oro City. Only establishments offering basic necessities like pharmacies, banks, supermarkets, telecom shops and hardware stores inside the malls are allowed to open during the ECQ until July 31, 2021. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 03 August) — Police arrested on Sunday a Nigerian evangelical pastor known for his anti-vaccine stance for holding prayer meetings with his followers in his residence in Barangay Bugo.

Police Major Evan Viñas said police officers went to the residence of Pastor Hassan Babatunde in Phase III, Block-19, Lot-35, Villa Trinitas, Barangay Bugo where the meetings were held after receiving complaints from neighbors and barangay officials.

Viñas said the prayer meetings violated the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) guidelines set by the National Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Cagayan de Oro.

He said Babatunde , who is married to a Filipina, had turned his residence into a church named Deliverance Power Center Ministries.

“Only virtual religious gatherings are allowed under ECQ guidelines,” he said.

The police official said additional charges would be filed against Babatunde for allegedly resisting the presence of the police officers.

He said the pastor is presently detained at the police station in Bugo.

The IATF has placed Cagayan de Oro under ECQ, the strictest quarantine measure, following a surge in COVID-19 cases and the discovery of at least 13 Delta variant cases of the infectious disease. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)