Año: DILG, Cebu province reach ‘compromise’ on masks

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The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the provincial government of Cebu have agreed to settle their differences concerning the optional wearing of face masks in the province amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to reporters during an event on Thursday, outgoing Interior Secretary Eduado Año said he had talked with Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia over the phone “and it went well because we both sought a compromise or common solution for this issue.”

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Año did not say, however, if the governor has agreed to rescind her executive order, and the subsequent ordinance, that made the wearing of face masks in open places optional.

He only said that the provincial government would craft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) before the ordinance could be implemented and that the governor and other provincial officials also had a dialogue with DILG Central Visayas director Leo Trovela on June 22.

Crafting the IRR

“At present, the Cebu provincial government is crafting the IRR to rationalize the wearing of face masks. We will wait for their IRR before we hand out a new guidance,” Año said.

However, Garcia, speaking to capitol reporters earlier this week, would neither confirm nor deny that she had spoken to Año.

The DILG, along with other national government agencies, has refused to acknowledge Garcia’s Executive Order No. 16 dated June 9, lifting the mandatory wearing of face masks and limiting it in closed and air-conditioned spaces, saying it went against the guideline set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases which requires the wearing of face masks in all public places.

The Cebu provincial board adopted Garcia’s EO into Ordinance No. 2022-03 in a special session on June 14, with the ordinance taking effect 15 days after its publication.