Año, Garcia word war erupts on face mask policy in Cebu

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año figured in a verbal tussle in connection with the implementation of the mandatory face mask rule in the province.

Garcia earlier issued an executive order that required face masks to be worn only in closed and air-conditioned spaces. This was backed by a resolution from the Cebu Provincial Council.

In a GMA News report, Garcia insinuated that her liberal policies in the fight against Covid-19 is what made her garnered 1.4 million votes and sealed her victory for reelection.

“I have a responsibility to the Cebuanos, not to unelected and outgoing officials,” Garcia said.

Garcia also admitted not recognizing the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the mandatory wearing of face masks as the law.

“They keep on insisting on IATF guidelines. As stated, it is a mere guidelines because that doesn’t carry the force of law, not enacted by Congress, nor is that an Executive Order signed by the President. That task force can only recommend,” Garcia insisted.

But Año interjected and said "no, that's not true. A resolution is already part of the President's issuances. Si Presidente and nag-uutos n'yan. Hindi 'yan (The President ordered that. That’s not it) because it's recommendatory."

“They should be aligned with that. Hindi ka pwede gumawa sa sarili mo,” he added.

The DILG chief also warned the local government officials that they face charges if they violate the orders of the national government.

“If you have some actions and issuances that would cause damage and injury to the government and to the people of Cebu, that is a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices,’’ he noted.

Año also stressed that stubborn local officials may be suspended, disqualified from holding public office and fined for their infraction.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra emphasized that wearing of face masks is mandatory noting that the rule shall prevail over executive orders issued by local government units. (Chito A. Chavez)