Ultimatum

DILG gives Cebu gov’t 3 days to fix face mask rule

By: Dexter Cabalza - Philippine Daily Inquirer | June 17,2022 - 08:01 AM

The Cebu provincial government has until the weekend to amend its rule on making the wearing of face masks optional, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año issued the warning more than a week after Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia issued Executive Order No. 16 lifting the mandatory wearing of face masks in well-ventilated, open spaces; face masks are still required in enclosed, air-conditioned spaces.

“We will be giving the Cebu provincial government … [a chance] to amend, rectify or adjust their ordinance and EO to be consistent with EO 151,” Año told reporters at the police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, referring to the executive order signed by President Duterte in November last year making the wearing of face masks mandatory under the guidelines of the nationwide implementation of the five-tier alert level system of COVID-19 response.“After the weekend we will do whatever is necessary. I am consulting with my legal team [on what to do],” he added.

Precedent

“We do not want to set a precedent for other [local governments]. We are still in a pandemic and more transmissible variants are still arising. Hence, we must abide by the [minimum public health standards], including wearing of face masks, in order to finally defeat this pandemic,” he said.

Año said Garcia was causing “confusion” among the public. “What if more people get sick because of her rule? Will she be accountable to them?”

She was also “casting doubt on the image of the national government, which is the biggest injury,” he added.

“The entire nation is still under a state of public health emergency … Now is not the time to be complacent. There should only be one policy across the country,” Año said.

The DILG chief noted that Garcia could be held liable under Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for causing “undue injury” to the national government and the Filipino people.

According to Año, Garcia’s EO and the Cebu provincial ordinance were also inconsistent with the following national laws: President Duterte’s EO 1218, series of 2021, placing the country under a state of calamity until Sept. 12, 2022; RA 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, which authorizes the President to declare a state of public health emergency; and former President Benigno Aquino III’s EO 168, series 2014, which created the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases with functions to pass measures that will prevent the local spread of COVID-19, including the mandatory wearing of face masks.

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TAGS: cebu news, DILG Secretary Año, DILG vs Cebu provincial government, EO 16, EO16, face mask rule, Governor Gwen Garcia

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