Gwen challenges critics of air purifiers: ‘If you have other ideas, run for governor’
MANDAUE CITY, Cebu – Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia challenged critics of her recent mandate for workers in air-conditioned environments to wear personal air-purifiers to run as governor.
“I will just continue with what I believe is right for the province. If you have other ideas, run for governor,” said the governor in an interview after the Caravan of Provincial Government services in the town of Moalboal on Thursday, September 16, 2021.
“Maybe the people might choose you, and then at that time, if you are governor… then implement your own policies,” she added.
As an elected official who was “chosen by the millions of Cebuanos,” Garcia said she will take responsibility for her decisions.
“I am the one who has the mandate. You may have your ideas but you were not elected. You were not chosen by the people. This is my responsibility. Kamo nga mo insister sa inyong mga idea, maayo mo kay inyong responsibilidad inyo ra’ng kaugalingon tingali inyong pamilya. Ako, milyon ka milyon nga mga Cebuanos. So, I have the mandate, and I’ll take responsibility for my decisions,” the governor said.
Garcia explained that wearing personal air-purifiers will serve as an “added protection,” apart from wearing face mask, from the COVID-19.
“They should wear a mask, but as an added protection, basta aircon, kay kapila na bitaw na. You know, we’ve heard so much of this virus, it stays [in places where there’s no] proper ventilation, the air droplets that can stay for hours,” she said.
She also noted that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had already given its position regarding the matter, saying that the agency is not prohibiting the use of air-purifiers.
It can be recalled that Garcia issued Executive Order 41 on September 7, 2021, wherein all employees operating in air-conditioned establishments are required to wear face masks and personal air-purifiers at all times.
Businesses are also required to install air purifiers for their establishments relative to the space of their offices, stores, restaurants, and others.
It can also be recalled that two Cebu-based labor groups earlier expressed opposition to the said orders.
Partido Manggagawa Cebu Chapter requested the governor to reconsider the move, stressing that the policy would be a burden to minimum wage workers and that there was no scientific proof of its effectiveness.
The group claimed that the Capitol had not consulted any of the stakeholders such as the workers, when they would be the most affected of the policy.
The Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo – Kilusang Mayo Uno (AMA Sugbo-KMU) also urged DOLE and Department of Health (DOH) to intervene and take action on the said policy of Garcia.
AMA Sugbo KMU said that the Capitol should be the ones to spend and provide them with air-purifiers and not the workers.
Prior to this, last July, the provincial government also required drivers and conductors of public utility vehicles (PUVs) to wear personal air-purifiers, where the flak started.
Garcia said that they have been distributing vitamins among the PUV drivers and conductors, as well as the province’s police personnel.
In October 2020, DOH said personal air purifiers are not in any way substitute to face masks, face shields, social distancing, and should not be a requirement.
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