MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Thursday that it is speaking with its legal team on what can be done now that Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has made face masks optional in her province.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told TeleRadyo that Cebu’s latest face mask orders are against the law.
“Meron talagang paglabag na naganap dito ‘no, ang talagang sinaway nila at nilabag dito, yung Executive Order No. 151, Series of 2021. Ito yung pinirmahan at in-approve at inilathalang EO, ang EO na ‘to ay regarding sa implementation of the alert level system for COVID-19 response. And under this EO, the wearing of face mask is mandatory under all the alert levels,” he explained.
(There was a violation here, they broke Executive Order No. 151, Series of 2021, which provides guidelines on the implementation of the alert level system for COVID-19 response. And under this EO, the wearing of face mask is mandatory under all the alert levels.)
Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia has said there is "no legal basis" for authorities to apprehend persons who don't wear face masks outdoors in the province.
She noted that under Section 5 of the latest Inter-Agency Task Force resolution issued June 4, the task force "recognizes the autonomy of local government units."
"It's very clear, 'provided further there is no objection from local government unit where these activities take place,'" she said.
"This specifically recognizes the autonomy of local government units. This IATF task force must at all times consult with local government unit."
Garcia also cited Section 105 of the Local Government Code which states the health secretary may assume direct supervision and control of health operations in any LGU for 6 months.
The DILG Secretary, however, said executive orders have the force and effect of law.
“So ang ibig sabihin nito, dahil viniolate nila ang isang batas, ibig sabihin nito ay liable sila sa isang anti-graft and corrupt practices. And pangalawa, hindi ka pwede mag-prevail ang ordinansa o kaya ang executive order sa local government over the executive order of the president,” he said.
(So this means that, because they broke the law, this means they are liable for breaking the anti-graft and corrupt practices law. Second, a locla government's ordinanceor executive order cannot trump that of the president's.)
“Nagkokonsulta tayo sa ating legal teams sa next move natin para siguraduhin naman natin na matigil yung ganitong klaseng practice na hindi naman talaga naayon… ang ating legal team ay magbibigay ng magandang recommendation at yun ay ating gagawin," he said.
(We are consulting our legal team on our next move so we can stop inappropriate practices like these...they will make a good recommendation and we'll do that.)
“Kahit naman patawid na yung administrasyon yung batas ganoon pa rin naman eh ‘no? Hindi naman yan mababago, so kailangan ay panagutin natin sila kung hindi nila babaguhin o ia-adjust o ia-align yung kanilang executive order at ordinansa sa national policies."
(Even if the administration is about to change, the law remains the same. It won't change, so we still need to hold them accountavle if they don't adjust or align their executive orders with national policies.)
Año stressed that the wearing of face masks remains mandatory nationwide.
“At yan ang ipatutupad. Ang ating kapulisan ay patuloy na magco-confront, ‘pag sakaling kinakailangang arestuhin sa mga matitigas ang ulo, gagawin ng Philippine National Police yan,” he stressed.
(We will continue to implement that. The police will confront those who are not wearing masks, and if needed be, they will be arrested.)
--TeleRadyo, 16 June 2022