Some Cebuanos in favor of optional wearing of face mask

·3 min read

SOME residents in Cebu have supported Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s executive order allowing the optional use of face masks in well-ventilated and open areas in the province.

In an interview with SunStar Cebu Tuesday, June 21, 2022, Marilyn Jagbel, 40, from Alegria town, said wearing a face mask is acceptable in crowded areas to prevent possible transmission of the virus that causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

"Para nako, okay ra nga magsuot og face masks basta daghan ug tao -- closed area sama sa mga air-conditioned na lugar. Pero sa probinsya sa Alegria, pwede ra na optional kini kay bukid-bukid ang lugar ug dili crowded...apan diri sa siyudad, kinahanglan jud ang pagsuot sa face masks," she said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases has required the mandatory wearing of face masks in all public places, based on rules that have been in place for more than two years.

Governor Garcia, however, issued on June 9, 2022, Executive Order (EO) 16, allowing the optional use of face masks in open spaces or well-ventilated venues. The Cebu Provincial Board adopted Garcia’s EO when it passed an ordinance on June 14 “rationalizing” the use of face masks in the province.

But Jagbel expressed concern on the public’s health safety in case of spike in Covid-19 cases in the city if the ordinance is implemented.

"Kung motaas sab ang kaso sa Covid-19, kita ra man gihapon ang mag-antos...dili baya nato makit-an an ang kagaw," she said.

Jay Asumbrado, 21, from Dalaguete, also supported Garcia's policy, citing the slowing down of Covid-19 cases in the province.

"According to Gwen's statement, the ordinance is implemented in the province, so [it is] definitely fine. Nowadays, dili ra man rampant or [paspas] ang spread sa virus. Nagka-lessen na siya og dili na siya high risk," said Asumbrado.

He admitted, though, the inconvenience caused by wearing face masks, especially for those wearing eyeglasses.

"Especially sa mga tao nga nag eyeglasses, ang moist mo pilit sa eyeglasses," he said.

A 58-year-old street vendor in Cebu City, Claudio Cabutin, shared Asumbrado's struggle.

"Usahay mag sabol ang mag face mask...maglisod ta ug ginhawa -- ug naa gani virus, dili makasagang ang [pagsuot sa] face masks, muatos man gihapon atoang ginhawa," he said.

Alexy Cabellon, 24, from Bantayan Island, said the optional wearing of face masks is not applicable especially in Cebu City.

"Dili ko favor sa optional face mask kung diri sa Cebu City. Mas maayo nga tanan gyud kay wala pa nahuman ang [atong pakipagbatok sa] virus," he said.

Cebu City, a highly urbanized city, has been placed under Alert Level 1 from June 15 to June 30, while Cebu Province has been under the stricter Alert Level 2.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año earlier rejected Garcia’s order, reiterating President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that the enforcement of wearing face masks will cease only by the end of his term, or June 30.

On June 16, Año gave the Cebu Provincial Government a three-day ultimatum to align its ordinance with Duterte’s EO 151, which adopts the guidelines on the implementation of the Alert Level system in the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Garcia and Cebu provincial officials, however, were unmoved by the three-day ultimatum issued by the DILG, with the governor saying: “We will stand by our ordinance adopting my EO on rationalizing the wearing of face masks in well-ventilated areas.”

Garcia warned law enforcement officers last week that they would be held accountable if they apprehend individuals not wearing face masks in well-ventilated and open spaces.

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