Cebu City officials welcome IATF decision on optional use of face masks nationwide

By: Wenilyn B. Sabalo - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | September 08,2022 - 02:08 PM
OPTIONAL USE OF FACE MASKS NATIONWIDE WELCOMED. In photo is Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama. | CDN Digital file photo

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama | CDN Digital file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Officials of the Cebu City government have welcomed the national government’s decision to make wearing of face masks voluntary in open spaces nationwide, which can be seen as a significant policy change as the country transitions to the “new normal.”

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, in an interview on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, said he was happy that members of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases had finally discussed and decided on the controversial issue of making the use of face mask voluntary or “non obligatory” when in open spaces.

“I’m glad that that matter has already been discussed. They (national government) will be able to come up with a document so that we will adopt; we will receive it, and have One Cebu Island,” he told reporters.

“Cebu, particularly, Cebu City, we have shown being a model, and we should thank the national that they are also not oblivious, such the whole world is really looking at on rationalizing the matter,” he added.

Malacañang, on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, announced that the IATF has recommended the lifting of the mandatory wearing of face masks in outdoor areas.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles said the IATF issued the resolution last Monday and that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., would soon issue an executive order (EO) approving the new policy and other guidelines that the task force has proposed.

READ: Face mask to be optional when outdoors nationwide

The IATF recommendation and Malacañang announcement came a few days after Rama issued his EO No. 6 series of 2022, which introduced several changes to his EO No. 5 series of 2022 that makes the wearing of face masks outdoors in Cebu City ‘non-obligatory’.

His most recent EO revisions defined a “trial and observation period” for the voluntary usage of face masks in public areas of the city. This runs from Sept. 1 to December 31, 2022.

READ: Cebu City’s non-obligatory use of face mask: Trial only 

Cebu City Councilor and Emergency Operations Center deputy chief implementer Joel Garganera, for his part, said the current stance of the IATF about the wearing of face mask was the “way to go.”

“Actually, it’s the way to go..the gist of his (Rama) EO is kani man gung pandemic, this is a collective responsibility. So, gusto sa mayor nga we have to be responsible sa pagproteher sa atong kaugalingon. Gitagaan ka’g option,” he said.

(Actually, it’s the way to go … the gist of his (Rama) EO is that this pandemic, this is a collective responsibility. So, the mayor wants that we have to be responsible to protect ourselves. We are given an option.)

“Pero makita nimo sa atong palibot, daghan gihapon nagwear og face mask. The mayor is also very happy gihapon,” he added.

(But you can still see in our surroundings that many are still wearing face masks. The mayor is also very happy for this.)

To recall, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Jr. earlier talked with Rama to defer the implementation of his EO No. 5, committing to bring the matter to the IATF for deliberation.

Abalos also suggested to the IATF to make Cebu City the pilot implementor of the said measure on non-obligatory wearing of face mask, as he asked other local government units to put on hold any planned policies lifting the mandatory wearing of face masks in their areas until the matter would be brought to the IATF.

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TAGS: Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Cebu Daily News, EO no. 6 series of 2022, face mask, IATF, Malacañang, optional, outdoors

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