THE Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, June 10, 2022, criticized the optional wearing of face mask policy in Cebu, saying the agency was not consulted by the provincial government on the matter.

In a virtual press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they disagree with the new policy as it goes against their position that wearing face masks must remain mandatory as part of the minimum public health standards.

"The DOH is one with our health experts in its position that wearing of face masks is still a valuable response to the pandemic, and we recommend that all must continue wearing them," Vergeire said.

"We were not consulted regarding this move or executive order coming from Cebu," she added.

The health official also said their position is anchored on the policy set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, which has been authorized by the Office of the President.

"The national government has authority to issue protocols. And these protocols should be complied with by all sectors, including local governments," said Vergeire.

She said they are hoping that the provincial government will reconsider its new policy.

"It will be a small sacrifice in order to protect our countrymen. Let us not oppose the policies. Let us take it slowly and we will ultimately be able to reach the new normal with no more restrictions," said Vergeire.

In an executive order Wednesday, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said the wearing of face masks in well-ventilated and open spaces in the province is now only optional.

Garcia said face masks will now be mandated only in closed and air-conditioned spaces, as well as among people manifesting Covid-19 symptoms. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)