Gwen eyes following SG’s policy: Make use of face masks optional indoors too

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram September 04,2022 - 10:38 AM
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia presents IATF Resolution No. 160-D as she points out that she has not defied, but instead, complied with the task force’s policies when she issued EO No. 3-2022 for foreign arrivals. | CDN Digital File Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia backed Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama’s decision to make the wearing face masks an option in open public spaces.

In a recent press conference, Garcia defended the city government’s new Executive Order (EO) that puts the face mask mandate in a ‘non-obligatory’ status amid criticisms including those coming from officials of the Department of Health (DOH). 

The development also prompted the governor to review the Capitol’s existing policy that makes wearing of face masks in open spaces voluntary.

Garcia said she is considering following Singapore’s newly revised guidelines on the use of face masks both in outdoor and indoor settings. 

“I do plan to take into consideration the very very sane sensible logical and pro-people face mask policy of Singapore,” said Garcia. 

She added that she will be consulting relevant stakeholders on her plans before making any further actions.

Last August 29, the city-state of Singapore allowed its constituents to ditch face masks even in closed spaces except for public transportation and identified high-risk settings like healthcare facilities. 

DOH slammed anew

Meanwhile, Garcia slammed the DOH again for questioning the Cebu City Government’s move to allow the non-obligatory use of face masks. 

“I got this from Mayor Mike. The DOH supposedly reacted…that the DOH should have been consulted.  Hello? Excuse me! Do you know anything about local autonomy? Please read up on RA (Republic Act) 7160, particularly Section 105,” said Garcia. 

The governor, who has been at odds with the state’s health department in several cases, reminded national government officials to “respect the local autonomy” of local governments like Cebu City.

“I think you do need some read about local autonomy because you cannot at all times keep on directing LGUs (local government units) to follow your policies which after all, have not totally captured the real situation on the ground,” Garcia said. 

“Please respect local autonomy. You seem to forget that there is such a thing as Republic Act 7160 also known as the Local Government Code,” she added. 

Cebu City is the capital of Cebu province but both are governed independently. 

Last week, Rama issued an EO that makes wearing face masks an option in open, public areas. 

The provincial government of Cebu made the same move last June, which also sparked debates and discussions at the national level.

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