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The PNP advises cops to follow the IATF’s mask directive.

MANILA, Philippines — Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr., the Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge, instructed all police officers to observe the national government’s rule imposing mask demands across the country on Monday.

Danao made the remark to clarify the conflicting views of the Cebu Police Provincial Office (CPPO) and the Police Regional Office 7 (Central Visayas) on Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s Executive Order (EO) 16, which made the wearing of face masks in open and well-ventilated spaces in the province optional.

“Remember, we are members of the Philippine government, thus we must do whatever the mandate or the Secretary of Interior and Local Government says.” He added at a press conference in Camp Crame, “We have the national IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force).”

Over the weekend, PRO-7 chief Brig. Gen. Roque Eduardo Vega concurred with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ rule mandating the use of face masks, claiming that this is in line with the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s directive (DILG).

Lt. Col. Engelbert Soriano, the chief of the CPPO, disagreed, siding with Garcia on the implementation of EO 16.

Garcia previously stated that officials have “no legal basis” to detain anyone who does not wear face masks when outside the province.

Persons who breach health rules like wearing face masks may be detained “if required,” according to DILG Secretary Eduardo Ao.

While Danao respects Garcia’s ability to criticize national government policies, he says the PNP will generally obey the order of command.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the province of Cebu has become the first in the country to make face masks optional.

The country’s mask mandate, according to President Rodrigo Duterte, will continue in place until he walks down on June 30.

There will be no compromising.

Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said in a Laging Handa briefing that governors and mayors of highly urbanized cities are under the President’s control and supervision, dismissing Garcia’s position on the validity of her order under Section 105 of the Local Government Code (LGC).

“Gusto ko sana i-correct lang na hindi po ito applicable sa sitwasyon ngayon dahil ang Section 105 ng LGC nagbabanggit po doon kung puwede pong utusan ng pangulo ang Secretary of Health na i-take over nila ang health operations ng isang LGU at maibabalik lamang ito However, in this situation, natin never po nag take over ng health operations ang ating national government sa health operations ng local government (I just want to clarify that this is not applicable in this situation because Section 5 of the LGC states that the President and Secretary of Health, after consulting with the local government, may take over the health operations of an LGU, which may be returned to the locality after six months),” Densing said.

According to Densing, Section 105 of the LGC specifies that certain national measures are aimed at reducing the spread of Covid-19 by requiring the use of face masks.

“At isa sa binabanggit sa ating lokal na gobyerno (And one of the things said) is that all local government officials must respect the law, policy, and regulations, at ito ang basehan ng general supervision ng ating pangulo (and this is the basis of our President’s general supervision),” he added.

The President’s mandate in this general supervision, according to the DILG official, has been delegated to the department through Administrative Order (AO) 367, which gives the department the authority to call the attention of LGUs whose policies or ordinances are not in compliance with national laws.

When asked if Garcia will face prosecution, Densing said that mailing a show-cause order would be the final step.

“But, in the meanwhile, we’ll have to urge our regional (DILG) officials to speak with the governor (Garcia) about making some changes to the EO.” I believe Gov. Gwen’s EO has a noble intention, but we should probably examine the facts to ensure that it is consistent with the President’s pronouncements. In the meanwhile, it’s critical to communicate. If no improvements are made, a show-cause order will be issued,” Densing explained.

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