Año warns Garcia not to cause ‘undue injury, confusion’ with face mask rule
MANILA, Philippines — Outgoing Interior Secretary Eduardo Año warns Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia not to cause “undue injury and confusion” on the national government’s face mask policy, saying this indicates a violation of the country’s anti-graft law.
Garcia last week issued Executive Order No. 16 allowing the optional use of face masks in open and well-ventilated spaces in Cebu. She said this seeks to “rationalize” the requirement of wearing face masks within the province.
The order was recently adopted as an ordinance by the Cebu provincial board.
“Kung patuloy nila yang gawin at magkakaroon na talaga tayo ng injury at damage and confusion, e talagang hindi naman pwede na ating national government ay pabayaan lang mangyari ang ganyan,” Año said in a dzBB interview on Wednesday.
(If they continue that and it will lead to injury, damage and confusion, the national government really cannot let that happen.)
“Binangga nila yung Executive Order No. 151, violation na talaga…violation ng anti-graft and corrupt practices [law],” he added.
(They are going against Executive Order No. 151, it’s a violation, a violation of our anti-graft and corrupt practices law.)
Año is referring to the executive order signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in November 2021 approving the nationwide implementation of the COVID-19 alert system.
The said order also laid out minimum public health protocols, including national guidelines on the wearing of face masks.
According to Año, Cebu’s optional face mask use order has “no legal basis” and is “rendered defective.”
“’Yung EO at ‘yung ordinansa na ipinasa ng Cebu provincial government ang talagang walang legal basis. Dapat ang kanilang mga EO or ordinansa, nakaangkla sa national policies, pronouncement ng Pangulo, batas, Constitution. ‘Pag wala ‘yan, walang pinanggagalingan, wala kang pinagbabasehan. That is rendered defective at hindi pwedeng ipatupad ‘yan,” the DILG chief said.
(The EO and the ordinance that the Cebu provincial government really has no legal basis. Their EO or ordinance should be based on national policies, the pronouncement of the president, the law, and the Constitution. If they don’t have this, you have no basis. That is rendered defective and cannot be implemented.)
“Because…sumasalungat ka na sa national government at nagko-cause na ‘yan ng injury at kaguluhan at confusion [You are going against the national government and causing injury, chaos, and confusion],” he added.
Earlier, Garcia also warned against apprehending those who choose not wear face masks in open and well-ventilated areas in the province, saying police officers may be accused of making “illegal arrests.”
“Yung sinabi niya, yan ang sinasabi natin na causing undue injury, [What she said is causing undue injury]” Año went on.
“Actually yung kanyang statement e ebidensya na nung violation na ginagawa doon sa anti-graft and corruption practices. You’re causing undue injury, even the institution of the PNP (Philippine National Police) ay naaapektuhan na. So ‘di po pwedeng ganoon,” he added.
(Actually, her statement is evidence of her violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices. You’re causing undue injury, even the institution of the PNP is affected. This cannot be.)
The DILG is likewise seeking adjustments to Cebu’s optional rule on masking outdoors to align it with national guidelines.
“Ang ating national government, ang policy natin ay matutupad pa rin [Our national government, our policy will still prevail],” Año said.
At present, guidelines set by the government’s pandemic task force “allow only for specific instances when masks can be taken off, such as when eating or during certain well-ventilated sports and activities.”
The Cebu government, for its part, is standing firm on its directive that makes wearing face masks in open and outdoor spaces optional in the province. It also challenged Año to show proof that would support his claim that the province’s action has no legal basis.
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