No Christmas parties for military, police due to pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 21) — The Armed Forces has banned Christmas parties among its ranks this year, while the Philippine National Police considers imposing the same due to the coronavirus crisis.

Both announced on Tuesday that funds intended for revelries will instead be spent for COVID-19 response.

“Defer Christmas parties and similar celebrations as an austerity measure and as a gesture of sensitivity to our countrymen. Fellow Filipinos here and abroad have been suffering,” AFP chief General Gilbert Gapay said in a statement.

A directive will be issued to all unit commanders and head of offices across the country to formalize the ban, AFP spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said.

Meanwhile, PNP chief General Camilo Cascolan told reporters in a chance interview that he is “contemplating [on a] no-Christmas party [policy]" for the police.

"They will understand that, instead of using the funds for our Christmas party, we will be giving it out for COVID patients or maybe for the COVID fund," Cascolan said.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, vice chairman of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the country is not yet ready for Christmas gatherings despite easing community quarantine restrictions to reopen the economy. The IATF is the policy-making body in the pandemic response.

Año said IATF members, together with Metro Manila mayors, are discussing protocols for the Christmas season to prevent the spread of the virus during the holiday rush.