Cebu guv grateful to IATF over face mask policy

·2 min read

CEBU Governor Gwendolyn Garcia expressed gratitude to the National Government for recognizing the policies initiated by the Cebu Provincial Government in fighting the crisis brought by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

In an interview with reporters Friday, September 9, 2022, Garcia said that since the announcement of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) that it is recommending the lifting of the mandatory wearing of face mask in open spaces, she had been asked for her statement on the matter but she declined to speak.

"I know that you have been asking me that same question two days ago and I chose not to react because the classier thing to do is not to react. Well, I am just so grateful that finally, Cebu's policies are now being reaffirmed by the IATF and I think however bumpy our relationship may have been in the past, I think we're in for smooth sailing under a new composition of the IATF...," Garcia said.

It can be recalled that the governor and the IATF and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) differed on their positions in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the IATF this week recommended to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. the optional wearing of face masks in open spaces across the country.

In a joint press conference at the Malacañang on Wednesday, September 7, 2022, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said Marcos had verbally approved the IATF recommendation.

Garcia first issued Executive Order 16 on June 8 to allow the optional wearing of face mask in comfortable and open spaces in the province of Cebu.

This was followed by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama’s Executive Order (EO) 5 issued on August 31, 2022, which declares that the use of face masks is not mandatory within the jurisdiction of Cebu City.

But after controversy erupted over his EO, Rama on Monday, September 5, signed a new executive order calling the last four months of this year a “trial period” for the non-obligatory wearing of face masks in the city.

The trial began on September 1 and is set to end on December 31, 2022.

Garcia said she wanted the province to be free from various restrictions that have burdened the lives of Cebuanos.

"I can see that like us here in Cebu we really need to do a balancing act between protecting the health and safety of our constituents while considering and giving utmost importance to the livelihood of the people," said Garcia.

"It’s not one or the other, because lives need livelihood and livelihood can give better lives so sunny days are up ahead and I'm dreaming of a bright Christmas," she added. (ANV, TPT)