AFTER the controversial Executive Order (EO) No. 16 issued by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia making the wearing of face masks non-mandatory in open spaces in the province, the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas issued an order asking local police and the public to follow the directives set by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The DILG earlier did not recognize the EO of Garcia, which ordered police to continue to “confront, apprehend, and arrest” all violators of minimum public health standards (MPHS).

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Police Brigadier General Roque Eduardo Vega, regional director of PRO-Central Visayas, said they will continue to apprehend those who will violate the rules of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

Lieutenant Colonel Engelbert Soriano, provincial director of the Cebu Province Police Office (CPPO), earlier issued a statement that they will abide by what is in the law.

He said since EO 16 remains a law in the Province of Cebu, they will comply with it unless there is a dispute with another agency.

“The PNP (Philippine National Police) is mandated to enforce the law. Hence, Cebu PPO will support whatever is legal and supported by existing laws. EO 16 of Cebu signed by Hon. Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia remains the law as far as Cebu Province is concerned and we recognize that, unless it is later on invalidated by proper authority," Soriano said.

Vega, however, said they will follow the order of DILG Secretary Eduardo Año that still mandates Cebuanos to wear a face mask throughout Central Visayas.

The regional top cop said he has already called on the CPPO chief along with city and provincial police office directors to follow the order of their head office.

“In compliance with the DILG directives, PRO-7 continues to remind the public to observe the minimum public health standards, which includes the mandatory wearing of face masks in public places as set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases guidelines,” Vega said.