The Cebu provincial government did not consult the Department of Health (DOH) regarding its decision to ease the face mask policy in the province.
“Gusto namin linawin, hindi kami nakonsulta (We want to clarify, we have not been consulted) regarding this move or executive order coming from Cebu,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Friday, June 10.
Vergeire reiterated that the face mask policy is one of the keys why the country has managed to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“Ang Department of Health po, kasama po ng ating mga eksperto ay naninindigan, sa ating posisyon na ang mask po ay still valuable in our response. Nirerekomenda natin na patuloy na isuot po ang face mask dahil isa to sa ating panlaban sa Covid-19 virus (The Department of Health, together with our experts, stand by our position that the mask is still valuable in our response. We recommend that you continue to wear a face mask because it is one of our defenses against the Covid-19 virus),” she said.
“The mask not only protects us from Covid-19 but from other respiratory infections as well as monkeypox,” she added.
Vergeire highlighted the importance of wearing face masks amid the ongoing concerns about the new Covid-19 virus subvariants. She also said that the vaccination coverage of some areas in the country "are still not that high."
“Maliit na sakripisyo para maprotektahan tayong mga kababayan at komuidad natin —sana ay huwag natin kontrahin (It's a small sacrifice to protect our citizens and our community — I hope we don't oppose it),” she said.
Vergeire also noted that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) "is the policy directing body" for the country's Covid-19 response. She said that this is composed of almost all government agencies, including the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), “which oversees our local governments.”
“Specifically stated in our IATF resolutions: all public and private sectors and all units under each of these government agencies, including local governments, should comply and abide with the protocols of IATF,” said Vergeire.
The DOH Spokesperson also cited Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
Vergeire said that under this law, "the national government has that authority to issue protocols. And these protocols should be complied with by all sectors including local government."