MANILA, June 14 (Mabuhay) — The President’s directives will prevail over all local government ordinances as far as the mandatory wearing of face mask is concerned.

Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is enabled by the President’s orders.

“The IATF resolutions on the mandatory wearing of face masks, whether indoor or outdoor, are incorporated in and/or enabled by executive orders issued by the President,” Guevarra told reporters in a text message.

Under the Constitution, Guevarra said the Chief Executive retains general supervision over local government units.

“As between an executive order issued by the President, as manifested in resolutions issued by the IATF composed of Cabinet secretaries who are the alter egos of the president, on one hand, and executive orders issued by local government units, on the other hand, the former shall prevail, as the President exercises general supervision over local governments pursuant to Section 4, Article X of the Philippine Constitution,” Guevarra added.

On June 8, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued Executive Order 16 making the wearing of face masks optional in well-ventilated areas and open spaces in an attempt to boost tourism but masks are still encouraged, especially in crowded outdoor areas.

Cebu is currently under Alert Level 2.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año then stressed that the IATF-EID is the only body authorized to set health guidelines regarding the pandemic.

Citing health experts, he said certain sectors such as the elderly and those with comorbidities remain susceptible to Covid-19.

The government also cited that scientific evidence backs the use of face masks along with other minimum health protocol measures in reducing the transmission of infectious and respiratory diseases.

Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said in a public briefing Monday that a show cause order may be issued to Garcia as a last resort as they will first ask their regional officials to talk to the governor to make some adjustments in the executive order.  (MNS)

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