ABC Cebu prexy backs policy on optional wearing of face masks

·3 min read

CEBU Provincial Board (PB) Member Celestino “Tining” Martinez III is also supporting the move of the Cebu Provincial Government to allow the optional wearing of face masks in open and well-ventilated spaces.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued Executive Order (EO) 16 on June 8, 2022, making the wearing of face mask in well-ventilated and open spaces in the province no longer mandatory amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Martinez, an ex-officio member of the PB being the president of the Liga ng mga of Barangay sa Pilipinas (LBP) Cebu chapter, said on Wednesday, June 22, that he agreed constituents in Cebu Province should be given the free will to choose whether or not they would wear their face masks.

However, this does not mean depriving persons, especially those with comorbidities, of their rights to wear a face mask, Martinez added.

Martinez, who is also Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president of Bogo City, northern Cebu, suggested that the Provincial Government should also regulate proper hygiene and capacity in business establishments to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“Government should shift to focusing on sanitation, proper hygiene, medical assistance, information, vaccination, regulating the capacity of public establishments and events, observing health protocols for foreign and domestic travel,” he added.

Up to Malacañang

But for Martin Diño, Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs, the fate of the ordinance passed by the PB to support Garcia’s face mask order will depend on the decision of Malacañang.

Diño maintained that all barangays in the country should follow the law, particularly on the implementation of preventive protocols amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In reaction to Diño’s statement, Martinez said: “There is no argument, masks still serve a purpose and we should respect those who feel they should wear one for protection specially those who have inherent health problems and comorbidities. But making it mandatory and penalising [a person] for not wearing a mask is no longer needed, we are past educating its value.”

Aside from Martinez, Philippine Councilors League Cebu Chapter head Caroline Bacaltos and League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LPM) Cebu Chapter head and Liloan Mayor Christina Garcia-Frasco had earlier expressed support for the governor’s EO.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año has given the Cebu Provincial Government until over the weekend to “amend, rectify or adjust” its newly passed ordinance that made the wearing of face mask in open and well-ventilated areas in the province optional.

He said they will exhaust all legal remedies, as ordered by the Office of the President, if Cebu will refuse to heed their call.

Año said the Cebu face mask protocol deviates the provisions of several laws, such as the Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, as well as the Executive Order 151 of President Rodrigo Duterte that adopts the guidelines on the implementation of the Alert Level system in the country amid the pandemic.

The DILG, however, has yet to issue a statement on its next move as the Cebu Provincial Government has firmly stood its ground.

SunStar also tried to reach out to Año and DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya but they have not responded yet. (TPM, ANV / TPT / SunStar Philippines)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting