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Senator Calls Out Cebu, IATF To Settle Face Mask Fiasco

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Senator Sonny Angara called for a dialogue between Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to settle their differing opinions and mandates regarding the use of face masks to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Angara said during an interview with One News Wednesday that he “understands the point” of Garcia since Cebu province relies heavily on tourism to generate income.

“Naiintindihan ko yung point ni governor in trying to come up with a proactive policy regarding the wearing of masks,” Angara said.

He added that the mandate of wearing masks outdoors has been lifted around the world, making it an option.

“May basis din naman ‘yun because pag tiningnan mo all over the world, they’ve lifted the wearing of masks outdoors, optional na lang ‘yan,” the senator added.

The latest development in the wearing of masks in the country comes as Garcia issued an Executive Order (EO) which renders the wearing of face masks optional under certain conditions, the first EO in the country to mandate such.

EO 16 renders the wearing of face masks optional outdoors and in well ventilated spaces in Cebu Province.

However, the same EO also made the wearing of face masks mandatory for individuals showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Members of the provincial board unanimously adopted EO 16 in a special session held on July 14.

Angara then said that the two parties may find common ground through a dialogue.

Cebu Province is currently in a standoff with the IATF and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as both government offices said that the mandate of Garcia goes against IATF resolutions, EOs issued by the national government, and administrative orders by the Department of Health.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed EO 151 in November 2021, which effectively creates the Alert Level system that the country implements to this day.

This EO was signed upon the recommendation of the IATF, which emphasized on the maintenance of health protocols that should remain consistent with the Department of Health (DOH) Administrative Order No. 2021-0043, which includes the mandate of wearing face masks in public areas under Alert Levels one up to five. (GFB)

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