Cebu guv reiterates call for officials to respect local autonomy

·2 min read

CEBU Governor Gwendolyn Garcia reiterated her call to concerned government officials to respect local autonomy in relation to Mayor Michael Rama’s order that made the wearing of face mask "non-obligatory" in Cebu City.

"We're not deciding for the Cebu Province, Mayor Rama decided for Cebu City and so as the rest of the tri-cities. Please respect local autonomy, you seem to forget there is such a thing as the Republic Act 7160," Garcia said in an interview with the media on Friday, September 2, 2022.

Garcia said the local officials are more aware of the situation in their areas, which is why their decision should be respected.

"What is reality on the ground mao na atong i-recognize. I understand that supposedly, I got this from Mayor Mike, nitingog daw ang DOH (Department of Health) nga mananghid usa ngadto kanila. You need to do some read up about local autonomy because you cannot all the times keep on directing local government units to follow your policies which after all have not totally captured the real situation on the ground," Garcia added.

The governor issued Executive Order (EO) 16 on June 8, 2022, making the wearing of face masks in well-ventilated and open spaces in Cebu Province optional.

However, mask wearing would be required only in closed and/or air-conditioned spaces.

Her decision, however, was met with criticisms by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), DOH and the Inter-Agency Task Force, which spearheads the implementation of the National Action Plan against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Rama, on August 31, 2022, also issued Executive Order 5 similar to that of the governor's EO, "declaring the use of face mask within the territorial jurisdiction of the City of Cebu as non-obligatory, but a measure of individual self-preservation and protection.”

The wearing of face masks in closed spaces such as hospitals and clinics and by people with comorbidities, however, is still required. (ANV, TPT)