DAVAO City Second District Councilor Richlyn N. Justol-Baguilod revealed in a media interview on Tuesday morning, October 10, 2023, at the Sangguniang Panlungsod, that once her repeal of the facemask ordinance is approved on third reading, it will render the current mandate ineffective.
Baguilod explained that due to Proclamation Number 297 series of 2023 issued by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on July 22, 2023, which lifted the state of public emergency, prior memoranda, issuances, and orders related to the ordinance were withdrawn.
“Gi repeal natu so kato tanan dili na siya effective or ineffective na siya once mapasa natu ni for third reading and mapirmahan ni siya, mapirmahan na pod ang ordinance (We are repealing it, so all aspects of it will no longer be effective or ineffective once it passes for third reading and is signed into law),” Baguilod said.
Baguilod clarified that they have issued a separate resolution endorsing the health advisory provided by the City Health Office (CHO), particularly emphasizing the importance of students wearing masks, especially with cases of influenza-like illnesses on the rise in the city.
She added that they cannot impose penalties for non-compliance, as it is not mandated by national law, and mask-wearing is no longer obligatory in the absence of a Covid-19 pandemic.
She also said that once the ordinance is lifted, individuals who have incurred penalties and had cases filed against them within the prescribed period will still be required to pay. However, if no case is filed and the repeal is approved on the third reading, they will no longer be obliged to pay the fine.
She, however, strongly advocated for the use of face masks, particularly for students and individuals who are unwell.
“As a committee chair on health gina recommend natu as much as possible sa mga public places, especially in schools, sa atoang small children kay sila jud tung during pandemic na atoang giprotektahan (As the committee chair on health, we recommend it as much as possible in public places, especially in schools, for our young children, as they were the ones we aimed to protect during the pandemic),” Baguilod said.
According to a CHO report through the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, cases are currently below the alert and epidemic threshold. Baguilod and her team believe this justifies the removal of existing mandatory protocols.
Baguilod is hopeful that the ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 0307-20 Series of 2020, as amended, entitled, "An Ordinance Requiring the Mandatory Wearing of Face Masks at all times in Public Places During the Community Quarantine and/or After the State of Public Health Emergency is lifted” will be approved for third and final reading.
Meanwhile, Lea Regina Dulay, a non-teaching staff member from an academic institution, told SunStar Davao in a phone interview, that Dabawenyos have the option not to wear masks. However, she voiced her strong concerns about lifting the face mask ordinance.
“Wearing masks in public places was one of the huge factors in preventing the spread of this virus in the past few years. Should it be passed, they should not only encourage us to wear masks but to take booster shots to protect us from the virus,” Dulay said.