CEBU CITY – The province of Cebu received Monday 3.3 million face masks from the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Central Visayas (DSWD Region 7).
DSWD Region 7 Director Rebecca P. Geamala turned over boxes of facemasks to Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.
The facemasks will be distributed to the police stations of the province’s 44 towns and six components cities.
Town police chiefs, including Police Col. Engelbert Soriano, chief of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), attended the ceremonial turnover of the facemasks at the Capitol Social Hall here.
The turnover was held a few days after Garcia issued a memorandum directing mayors and town police chiefs not to impose fines on individuals caught not wearing facemasks in public places.
Garcia described the imposition of fines as anti-poor, saying that buying of facemasks has become a financial burden for the less fortunate individuals.
Instead of imposing fines, those who will be caught not wearing facemasks should be provided with facemasks for free, the Cebu governor said.
“Verbal reminders, reprimands, and lectures are encouraged,” said Garcia in her April 20 memorandum.
She reminded the police to avoid subjecting quarantine violators to any abuses. “Not on my watch. The worst thing you, the police, can do is to abuse the poor. You should be the epitome of fair and justice,” said Garcia.
Soriano said the CPPO is fully supporting Garcia’s decision to scrap monetary fines. “These (facemasks) will be distributed to all chiefs of police so that instead of apprehending the violators, we’ll help them by producing or giving masks. This is already expensive for some,” Soriano said.
However, both Garcia and Soriano warned that wearing of facemasks is still required. Soriano urged Cebuanos not to abuse the leniency of the said health protocols which is meant to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“If a person was already given a mask and yet he refuses to wear it, that’s a different story. We will be taking certain actions because wearing of facemask is also meant to protect them,” Soriano said.