CEBU

Bzzzzz: Under mayor's EO, Guv Gwen, all others in Cebu City to wear masks

CEBU. Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia (left) and Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella. (SunStar File)

NET-noteworthy.

[1] WATER IN MALABUYOC. Lorenzo de la Cerna complains about the "slow flow" of public water to households in Malabuyoc, Cebu while it overflows on the town mayor's piggery. De la Cerna alleges conflict of interest, which he asks the governor to look into.

[2] SUPPORT FOR LABELLA. Vice Mayor Mike Rama, says "Higalang Eli Espina," is leading the move to support Mayor Edgar Labella's initiatives in the fight against Covid-19, topped with an omnibus ordinance that will contain the mayor's Eos on coronavirus. Mike made a privileged speech before the City Council.

WHO, IATF policy on masks

In one of her recent public addresses from Cebu Capitol, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia half-jokingly remarked on a netizen's inquiry if she was exempted from Cebu City's curfew. The governor holds office at the Capitol and resides in a house also located in the city.

Guv Gwen said she is exempted from the Cebu City curfew as a public official and even under the Capitol's own curfew for minors and people aged 65 and above (she is 64, she said.)

City Mayor Edgardo Labella Wednesday, April 1, issued an executive order (EO #66) that requires "all persons" to wear masks within the territorial jurisdiction of Cebu City. Public and private establishments are ordered under the EO to prohibit and refuse the entry of persons who are not wearing masks.

Labella, in announcing the order at a press-con, was already wearing a face mask. Those seated beside him were shown in video images as also wearing face mask.

Immediate questions were about the propriety of the order since neither the World Health Organization nor the Inter-Agency Task Force for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has recommended or required the wearing of face masks.

As recently as last Monday, March 30, WHO executive director Mike Ryan said the organization "still does not recommend that people wear masks" unless:

[1] they are sick with corona virus or

[2] they are caring for someone who is sick.

The IATF, which President Duterte said "calls the shots," along with the office of the president, also had made a similar non-recommendation. It is not known if IATF has changed its policy on face masks.

Argument against

The reason for the WHO position, which apparently IATF has adopted, is, according to Ryan, there is "no specific evidence that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit." On the contrary, WHO says, "there is some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing and fitting the face mask."

The order carries the penalty of P20,000 to P50,000 fine or not less than one month or more than six months of both, depending upon the court.

The EO does not list exemptions. Images in Wednesday night's news reports showed the mayor, already masked, and the governor, still unmasked.

Not in teleprompter

President Duterte's speech, broadcast close to midnight of Monday, March 30, is remembered more, not for the progress report he made in the fight against coronavirus but for this line:

"May mga doctor na, mga nurses, attendants namatay. Sila yung nasawi ang buhay para lang makatulong sa kapwa. Napakaswerte nila. Namatay sila para sa bayan. Iyon ang dapat rason na bakit tayo mamatay."

What's wrong with saying about dying for the country? "That should be the reason why we die," Duterte said. "It would be an honor to die for your country, I assure you."

Twelve doctors already died as Sunday, March 28 but maybe not because of love of country but because hospitals were being overloaded and health workers complained about lack of protection equipment for them.

The president was apparently mouthing Rizal's line but the national hero's situation and that of the casualties of Covid-19 are different. Vetting by speechwriters would've seen that but the now controversial section of the speech must not have been in Duterte's teleprompter.

***

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