''Necessary action'' to be made vs Cebu if officials fail to amend order on face masks: Ano
By Robina Asido
Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano said "necessary action" will be made against the local government of Cebu if its officials fail to amend the executive order it recently issued on the optional use of face masks in the province.
In a press conference in Camp Crame on Thursday, Ano said the Office of the President gave an instruction for them to seek all possible remedies including legal action.
"We will be giving the Cebu provincial government, the governor and the councilors to amend, rectify, adjust their ordinance and EO to be consistent with the EO 151 and the guidelines in the implementation of the alert level system which is part of EO 151. Maybe over the weekend we will give them a chance to rectify. After the weekend then we will do whatever is
necessary," he said.
Ano did not say the possible legal actions can be undertaken against the LGU officials of Cebu, as he is consulting the matter with the legal team.
"We will just do what is legal and what is commensurate with that particular kind of action of the Cebu provincial government. The national government does not recognize the EO and the ordinance. Like what (Justice) Sec. Guevarra have said, they do not have or it is beyond their powers to supersede, to counter, to contradict a national statute which includes the EO of the president," he said.
Ano added that the policy of the national government against the EO recently issued by Cebu will continue until the next administration after Gov. Gwen Garcia's ignored Ano's response in her executive order, saying that the DILG chief will only have two weeks in his current position.
"Now it is still the time of President Duterte. For me, I think we should take action on this. It doesn't mean that even if we only have two weeks here we are not going to do this, We are not the ones who implement this. It is a law for everyone. And saying that she was voted by one point something Filipinos in Cebu, and so she should be obeyed, that is not a basis because there is no logic there," he said.
"Even if you ask the 1.2 million, not all of them will agree to remove the mandatory wearing of mask and the pandemic. The state of calamity through Executive Order 1218 is until Sept. 2022 because we are still in pandemic. So that will continue even in the next administration. The state of calamity and state of public health emergency will still carry over," he added.
Ano noted that although his term as DILG chief will end after June 30, the Inter Agency Task Force will remain and nothing will change except for the cabinet secretaries.
"What she says that I will just be here for two weeks is devoid of logic. That is actually what we call your causing undue injury to the government and to the people because it is causing confusion," he said.
"In the process someone might get into accident or get sick and you are casting doubt on the image of the national government. That is the biggest injury so our councilors must understand that as my word of advice maybe you have not read the EO 151 and the IRR of the EO 151 known as the guidelines on the implementation of the alert level system nationwide, you should read it first word for word. Then you will realize that what you made does not have any legal basis and cannot be recognized by the government as it will endanger our people," he added.
After Garcia called the national government's policy on the mandatory wearing of face masks as anti-poor, Ano said "how much is the worth this face mask compared when you are infected with COVID-19?"
Ano added that face masks can be removed especially if the person is experiencing difficulty in breathing and there are no other people in the area.
"The most important is the right to health of our Filipino people, which is a responsibility of the President and it is in his power what we call the general supervision of the president over the local government and the the local government executives. So we called it respect to other people. You don't know if somebody near you has comorbidity, senior citizen or have symptoms so we still need to wear face masks," he said.
"It would assure a lot of confidence and ensure safety and health of our fellow Filipino people," he added. DMS