Rama: Cebu City’s face mask rule remains in effect

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CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama insisted that his executive order (EO) declaring the wearing of face masks within the territorial jurisdiction of the city as "non-obligatory" will remain.

This, after Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos announced that Rama has agreed to temporarily hold the implementation of the EO.

Rama said on Thursday, September 1, 2022, that his EO 5 will remain effective since it was already signed.

The mayor issued the EO on Wednesday, August 31, declaring the use of face masks as "non-obligatory but a measure of individual self-preservation and protection."

Rama also clarified that the EO did not totally lift the wearing of face masks since it is still mandatory inside health facilities, such as hospitals and clinics.

The EO also mandates persons with flu-like symptoms to wear face masks when going outside their residences.

It also allows establishments, schools and public utility vehicles to craft their own policies on whether to allow the optional wearing of face masks or not.

"I cannot be deferring the pronouncement because I already signed it," said Rama.

The mayor added that during their conversation, Abalos said that the Inter-Agency Task Force will convene to discuss the matter.

Rama also mentioned that he will talk with his lawyers to discuss possible provisions that can be added into the existing EO, so that it can be harmonized with the national policy.

"Dili ko makig away sa presidente ug sa atoang secretary, sulti-an lang ko nila kung unsay amoang ipuno, ipuno nato," said Rama.

He reiterated this during his interview with dzBB Thursday, September 1, saying: “I am calling now my lawyer kasi itong EO ko sila ‘yung nagfoform nito kaya kung anong position ngayon ng national, sigurado we will be attuning.”

He said the National Government should not see the implementation of his EO as a problem.

“It's about Cebu City kaya sinasabi ko kay kaibigang kong si Secretary Benhur, huwag siya mapoproblema. Madali nito, let them have their responsibility sa IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) to come up (with a measure) para kung saan kami magkukulang, then we will enhance. Kung saan kami tama, then they will also respect. Ganun talaga. Wala akong problema. Hindi ko lang masasabing idi-defer,” he said.

Rama also insisted on the local autonomy under the Local Government Code, which gives local government officials power to implement their policies for their constituents.

He said the national and local government should instead work together on strengthening the vaccination against Covid-19, expressing belief that it is the “way to liberation.” (With TPM)