Briones: A matter of choice

·2 min read

Why do I have the feeling that Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año might have continued to look the other way had Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia not come up with Executive Order (EO) 16?

He knows Cebuanos have been through a lot in the last six months, notwithstanding what they have had to go through since the first quarter of 2020 when the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic disrupted their lives.

In December 2021, super typhoon Odette devastated the province.

Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to endure lack of electricity and phone signals and to wait in line for gasoline or to withdraw money, among others.

In doing so, many violated health protocols that were put in place to stop the disease from spreading.

Did Año order their arrest?

Of course he didn’t. Had he done so, pandemonium might have erupted and caused bad publicity, which would have been disastrous to the administration’s allies with the elections right around the corner.

Back then, complying with minimum public health standards was a personal choice. Those who could, well and good. Those who couldn’t, well they had far more important matters to attend to like surviving.

Then the campaign period for the national and local elections rolled in.

Cebu, as a vote-rich province, became a magnet for candidates who came and went more than once to court the electorate. Sometimes they arrived with a small entourage. Other times, they brought with them a lineup of popular entertainment figures.

Their appearances always attracted huge crowds.

Yet the ban on social gathering and the face mask requirement hardly came up.

But lo and behold, Governor Garcia issues an EO making the wearing of face masks in “open space and well-ventilated areas” OPTIONAL and Año gets into a hissy fit.

He orders police to “confront, apprehend and arrest” all violators of health protocols, which include the wearing of face masks in public places as well as social distancing.

Why now?

Is it because this is not the first time that the governor has come to blows with the national agency over practical policies to ease the burden of Cebuanos who continue to suffer from the effects of the pandemic and Odette?

Is it because the governor is a woman? Or a “Bisaya”? Or is it because Garcia simply beat the agency to it?

This whole thing boils down to common sense.

If you’re not comfortable going outside without a face mask, then put one on. No one will stop or arrest you.

The EO merely gives you the freedom to choose.

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