Garcia to Año: Focus on real problems instead

·2 min read

FOCUS on crime prevention, illegal drugs and economic recovery rather than Cebu’s face mask policy.

This was Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s message to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary as their ongoing rift on her controversial executive order (EO) on making face masks optional in well-ventilated and open spaces continues.

“It’s time to refocus... that we must give time to the real problems that we are facing. Economic problems, peace and order because when the economy is bad, people will resort to crime when they can no longer feed their families. Why don’t we do that? Let’s work together, let’s join hands,” Garcia said during a press conference on Friday, June 17, 2022.

Garcia said this after DILG Secretary Eduardo Año gave the Provincial Government a three-day ultimatum to “amend, rectify or adjust” its newly passed ordinance making the wearing of face masks in open and well-ventilated spaces optional.

A day after Año issued the ultimatum, Garcia said she will stand with the Provincial Board’s ordinance adopting her controversial EO 16.

Garcia told reporters that despite the back-and-forth barbs she traded with Año since she issued EO 16, she has no “bad blood” against the outgoing DILG secretary.

“I wouldn’t call that bad blood because bad blood can be infectious. I don’t see this as bad blood, walang personalan to (This is not personal). I am just acting according to my mandate and I am deciding in accordance with my huge responsibility to the millions of Cebuanos who have entrusted to me their welfare and their benefit,” Garcia added.

She also urged Año to focus on his own transition now that President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has chosen his successor. Marcos Jr. has chosen former Mandaluyong Mayor Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. to lead the DILG.

This was not the first time that Garcia and Año had traded barbs over her local policies.

In 2020, Año and Garcia clashed over her order not to require plastic barriers in motorcycles as a precautionary measure against Covid-19.

The following year, the DILG and Garcia again clashed over her swab-upon-arrival policy for Returning Overseas Filipinos.

Garcia added that DILG even threatened to suspend her after she implemented a ban on the entry of live swine and pork products from areas in the country that were affected by the African Swine Flu.

As of this writing, the Capitol has yet to receive a formal communication from DILG concerning Año’s three-day ultimatum.

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