Editorial: Wearing face masks

·2 min read

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has shown again her independent streak when it comes to dealing with the ongoing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in the province. This time, she did not wait for the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to come up with a decision on the use of face masks—the governor issued Executive Order 16, which makes the wearing of face masks in well-ventilated and open spaces optional. The order, issued on June 8, 2022 and effective immediately, still mandates the wearing of masks in closed and air-conditioned places.

Outgoing Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has said his office would not recognize Governor Garcia’s order and he has instructed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to “confront, apprehend and arrest” all violators of minimum public health standards that include wearing of face masks in public as mandated by the IATF


The Cebu Provincial Government is in a state of disagreement again with the National Government. Governor Garcia in her executive order said “other countries, including Singapore, have already directed the wearing of masks and other personal protective equipment be optional in outdoor settings due to the global improvement of the Covid-19 situation.”

However, Cebu is neither a country nor a federal state. The province is still part of the Philippines, a unitary state in which the central government (governed from Malacañang) has the final say and supreme authority.

Governor Garcia cited the Local Government Code which empowers the local official to “carry out emergency measures.” Cebu and the rest of the world are still stuck in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Deciding to make the wearing of face masks in open spaces and well-ventilated places optional is not an emergency measure amid a global health crisis.

The governor should have waited for the decision of the IATF, which is headed by President Rodrigo Duterte as its overall chairman.

Here is an undeniable fact, backed by science and history: Wearing a face mask minimizes the risk of getting Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.

One must wear a mask when one is around people who are not members of one’s household.

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