CEBU CITY – Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia described the imposition of fines on people caught not wearing face masks in public places as anti-poor.
With this, Garcia, despite some backlash, is keen on issuing a memorandum directing the mayors and police chiefs of the province’s 44 towns and six component cities to abolish the imposition of fines for non-wearing of face masks.
“It’s really illogical,” Garcia said in a press briefing here Monday.
Garcia said she has yet to draft the memorandum as of Monday but it will take effect “as soon as possible” once issued.
She said paying fines for non-wearing of face masks is an additional burden as most of those caught were struggling financially.
In a recent visit to a salon, Garcia said workers complained that their working days were reduced from six to three.
She observed that those wearing face masks on the road are those who do not have the luxury of riding in air-conditioned vehicles.
Garcia added that the imposition of fines is not only oppressive but is also “prone to corruption.”
“It can be abused. Is there a receipt for that? Is there a concrete system or proper accounting? How would you know? It opens the possibility of corruption,” Garcia said.
Garcia said is aware that the scrapping of fines has been opposed but she clarified that wearing of face masks is still required.
“This is not about telling people not to wear masks,” she said.
Garcia said she was one of the strong advocates of the wearing of face masks but some policies meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 had to be changed after further study.
Garcia said wearing of face masks is highly recommended in enclosed areas.
“We learn as we go along. My decisions are data-based. I decide in accordance with thorough analysis of data,” Garcia said.
She said the province will distribute at least three million face masks to police stations. “When they (policemen) see people not wearing a mask, they can approach them and give them one,” Garcia said.