Pangan: Crossed signals

THE executive order issued by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia mandating the non-wearing of face masks in open and outdoor spaces in the province caught many prudent people by surprise.

The maelstrom caught the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership in a quandary on whether to invalidate the governor's order or to follow it.

The Department of Interior and Local Government, through its chief Secretary Eduardo Año, opposes the mandate of the order, saying the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has the last say over the policy of mandatory wearing of masks.

Police Colonel Engelbert Soriano, director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office, said the PNP has to follow the chain of command: what the directives from higher headquarters are, we will follow.

Now, the people of Cebu are confused as to who they shall follow. Would they risk arrest if they heed Governor Garcia's order?

To recall, Governor Garcia's executive order dated June 8 lifted the mandatory wearing of face masks in open and outdoor spaces in the province.

She justified her issuance as it rationalizes the wearing of face masks within Cebu.

The executive order provides an example for other areas to follow.

Anyway, the governor stressed that the wearing of face masks would continue to be required in closed and/or air-conditioned spaces as well as in crowded areas.

The wearing of face masks was also required for those who have symptoms of Covid-19 such as fever, cough or runny nose.

Secretary Año, however, opposed Garcia's directive and ordered the police to arrest those who will not wear face masks in outdoor settings.

The Department of Health, another national agency that determines policies on Covid-19 issues, stated that there are concerns about the optional wearing of face masks since the pandemic is not yet over and the virus continues to be a threat to public health.

Which order to follow then, that of Governor Garcia or the Department of the Interior and Local Government?

Such crossed signals between agencies bring only confusion and disbelief. It is about time this was resolved.


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