CEBU CITY – “I was just joking.”
Thus, said Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Epimaco Densing II after he was quoted in media reports purportedly warning Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to follow the protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
In a virtual press conference Thursday, Densing said he was just joking when he said Garcia may face sanctions after she ordered the dropping of swab tests as a requirement for local tourists entering the province.
“It was a speculative question. Tinanong lang ako niyan na kung paano kung hindi daw sumunod si Governor, so ang sagot ko pabiro lang muna, sabi ko ‘eh di i-force natin si Governor,’” said Densing.
Densing clarified that nothing was violated when the governor issued an Executive Order (EO) which no longer requires swab tests for persons arriving in Cebu for tourism-related activities.
In fact, Densing disclosed that in a scheduled meeting Friday, the IATF will propose the easing of travel restrictions by removing the medical certificate and the travel authority as requirements for travelers in areas under less stricter quarantine status.
In a separate press briefing in Medellin, Cebu where she led the reopening of tourism activities there, Garcia thanked Densing for shedding light on the issue.
“I wish to thank Undersecretary Densing for clarifying and I wish to thank them for going beyond what we already started in taking out the medical certificate and travel authority,” Garcia said.
Garcia insisted that she had no quarrel with the IATF, saying the EOs that she had issued to help stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were in accordance with the IATF guidelines.
Last week, the governor said she will oppose the recommendations of three consultants of the Department of Health to lock down Cebu and prevent the Cebuanos from travelling outside the province.
“I want to make this very clear. It was garbled. I was not speaking against IATF, I was answering the three doctors. I have always abided by the IATF omnibus guidelines,” said Garcia.
In issuing EO related to COVID-19 measures, Garcia she made it a point to analyze IATF guidelines “which is constantly evolving.”
“I analyze the data, I do my own study,” said Garcia.
Garcia likewise took a shot at a local newspaper for carrying the supposed warning against her. “That is not worthy of true of journalism,” she said.