Briones: Letting people choose

·2 min read

When Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. called on the public to continue wearing face masks while inside public utility vehicles (PUVs), he was reacting to Mayor Michael Rama’s executive order (EO), which made the wearing of masks in Cebu City non-obligatory, whether in open spaces or not.

Of course, Rama made some exemptions.

He said medical facilities could still require it, but that would depend on their administrators. Also, people experiencing flu-like symptoms, whether in open spaces or not, must put one on.

Then again, I could be wrong.

Maybe Montealto was just reacting to what he was seeing on the streets: people who were going about their lives like they used to before that thing called coronavirus disease (Covid-19) turned the world upside down.

However, he did admit that most, if not all, of the people he saw, whether they were on sidewalks or inside PUVs, still had their masks on, which didn’t surprise me.

You see, Cebuanos know what’s good for them. They wouldn’t gamble away their lives because of a whim.

So much has happened since the government first imposed the lockdown at the end of March in 2020 to try and contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

For example, we now know that some people are more vulnerable to the disease than others. Also, the vaccine has been available for more than a year. And yet, not everyone has opted to get vaccinated even though vaccines have been proven to be effective “at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death from Covid-19.”

If that’s the case, why not require people to get vaccinated? Because it violates their rights? If that’s the argument, then why force people to wear masks?

I’m just saying.

But hey, at least the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases appears to have had a change of heart when it recommended to the President making wearing of masks outdoors optional.

I don’t know if that had anything to do with Rama’s EO, or the fact that Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia made news nationwide when she adopted the practice for the province in June yet.

Is it because of the new people at the IATF? Maybe one of them accompanied the President to his state visits to Indonesia and Singapore where mask-wearing has become voluntary for quite some time.

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos did admit that the Philippines and Myanmar “were the only remaining member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that have not yet completely or partly lifted the mask mandate.”

I’m not saying the dangers posed by Covid-19 are gone, but we need to get on with our lives.