MANILA — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday said it "does not recognize" the executive order of Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia lifting the face mask rule in open spaces, noting that the guidelines of the COVID-19 task force should prevail since these have been approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said police might still arrest individuals in the province who violate health protocols "if necessary."
"Current [Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases] protocols allow only for specific instances when masks can be taken off, such as when eating or during certain well-ventilated sports and activities," said Año in a statement.
"This Department does not recognize the Executive Order issued by Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia because we have the IATF Guidelines approved by the President," he added.
"The Philippine National Police will continue to confront, apprehend, and arrest, if necessary, all violators of IATF guidelines and [minimum public health standards] in the province of Cebu."
Garcia, in Executive Order 16 issued Wednesday, said that face masks would be required only in closed and air-conditioned areas.
“The use of face masks shall be optional in well-ventilated and open spaces,” the order read.
However, people with COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough or runny nose would be required to wear a mask whenever they leave their homes.
Cebu province is currently under Alert Level 2, which means there is still relatively low vaccination coverage in some areas.
Only Cebu City, Alcoy, Borbon, City of Talisay, Oslob, Pilar, Santander, Tudela, are under Alert Level 1, the loosest of the country's 5-tier COVID-19 alert scheme.
More details to follow.