Cebu Gov hits 'hypocrisy' of some gov't officials on mandatory use of face masks

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia took a dig on some government officials whom he said have been insisting on the strict implementation of the use of face mask but were themselves doing the opposite.

In a GMA News report, Garcia presented the photos of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año and Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge (OIC) Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. with no masks inside air-conditioned rooms with other people in press conferences and were even having photo opportunities.

Garcia said that these incidents breach the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) guidelines stressing that face masks can only be removed when eating or during certain well-ventilated sports and activities.

“We arrest the poor guy walking on the street. He’s powerless, he has no authority, he is voiceless, he is nameless...basta arrest (just arrest),” Garcia said.

“They insist to follow very strictly the IATF guidelines on the wearing of face masks because that is the law according to them, that is the law. But to whom is that intended for? Are they exempted? They don’t need to while the rest of us must follow the law?” she added.

Año and Danao have insisted on the strict implementation of the mandatory use of face masks.

The feisty Cebu Governor asserted that the provincial government “continues to stand by the rule of law’’ with Executive Order No. 16 and subsequent ordinance on the optional wearing of face masks in well-ventilated and open venues.

Garcia insisted that the IATF resolution “doesn’t carry the force of law, not enacted by Congress, nor is that an Order signed by the President.”

In response, Año branded Garcia’s declaration as ‘unnecessary comments’ explaining that the “wearing of face mask is mandatory, but there are exemptions as well (as) reasonable accommodations especially in areas under Alert Level 1.’’

“Like when you are officially speaking in public to include press conference. And immediately after speaking, you must put on your mask again. And quick photo ops may be allowed in controlled environment where attendees have submitted negative antigen or PCR test result,’’ he added.

But Año maintained that the general rule of the mandatory wearing of face masks under Executive Order 151 remains in effect which is a stark contrast to the optional wearing of face masks in outdoor and ventilated areas.

On June 16, the DILG gave the Cebu government until the weekend to correct Garcia’s executive order warning that legal action may be taken against her for insisting to defy the national mandate.

But Garcia ignored the warning and maintained the enforcement of EO No. 16 will prevail in the province.

“Here in the province of Cebu the ordinance that rationalizes the use of face masks stands,” she said.

Garcia pointed out that the national government should focus more on solving the country’s pressing problems like the rising cost of oil petroleum products which have led to the skyrocketing price of prime commodities. (Chito A. Chavez)