Cebu mask EO ‘opposes’ nat’l protocols — DoH

When the national government implements protocols, this is for the public health and this is for the entire population.

September 3, 2022

The Cebu City executive order that makes the wearing of masks in the city’s open spaces non-obligatory is opposing the protocols implemented by the national government, the Department of Health said.

“In the (IATF) resolution, we are mandated to wear our masks all the time. This is part of our minimum public health standards. However, in their resolution, they made it optional,” Health Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in yesterday’s media briefing.

“Let me just reiterate that this (EO) has opposed the resolutions and protocols that have been resolved and implemented by the Inter-Agency Task Force and the national government,” Vergeire added.

Meanwhile, the Marcos administration will “most likely” extend the declaration of the state of calamity due to Covid-19.

Vergeire said the decision was based on the recent pronouncements of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“The President has pronounced during one of his interviews… he said that most likely we are going to extend the state of calamity until the end of the year,” she said.

“With that pronouncement, we already communicated with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council because the NDRRMC is the one who makes recommendations to the President when it comes to the national emergency,” she added.

Vergeire noted that local government units are expected to follow the protocols set by the national government.

“During these times of public health emergency, the local governments are ordered to follow the protocols of the national government even if they know their situation on the ground,” she stressed.

“When the national government implements protocols, this is for the public health and this is for the entire population,” she added.

Vergeire also expressed concern that Cebu City’s EO may be a precedent for other LGUs to follow suit and implement their own masking policy.

“That is one of our worries because we know that if actions like these will continue, other LGUs may follow suit and that would be really disastrous for all of us,” she said.

She explained that having a different masking policy per area would not work as other people travel from one area to another.

“When we make the masking voluntary, we now then make the risk of people in this area higher to get Covid-19,” she said.

The acting Health chief urged the local government to implement the existing protocols advised by the IATF.

“We need to have a one-nation approach. We need to be united from the local government up to the national level,” she said.

“Just imagine if one or two or three LGUs are implementing different protocols, what will happen to us when the virus process orders?” she asked.

Likewise, the Health department had already forwarded its recommendations to the NDRRMC, including the reasons why they are recommending its extension.

Vergeire cited that the extension is due to the “process and timeline in amending the law.”

“We know that it will not reach the expiration of the declaration that is why the decision was made and we are now facilitating it so that we can be able to have the NDDRMC approve this and give it to the President as a recommendation,” she added.

The DoH earlier urged Marcos to amend the Republic Act 11525, or the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, before deciding whether to lift or extend the state of calamity due to Covid-19.

The declaration of the state of calamity due to Covid-19 is set to lapse on 12 September.

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