The mandatory wearing of face masks in public spaces remains in force, Malacañang said Tuesday, citing the primacy of national policy, as set by the the IATF, over local government issuances.
Filipinos should continue wearing face masks consistent with the guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 response, Communications Sec. Martin Andanar said after Cebu province made the use of the gear optional.
"The Chief Executive's directive is clear: Continue wearing face masks; and the Department of the Interior and Local Government has instructed the Philippine National Police to implement the existing IATF resolution on wearing of face masks accordingly," Andanar said in a statement.
"We reiterate and support the legal opinion of the Justice Secretary that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) resolution on the mandatory wearing of face masks shall prevail over the executive orders by local government units, including the one issued by the provincial government of Cebu," he added.
Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia last week issued an executive order that made wearing of face masks in open, well-ventilated areas in the province optional, noting that the police cannot apprehend those who opt not to wear their face masks outdoors.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government had said that t does not recognize Garcia's new policy.
The Philippines made the wearing of face masks mandatory in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.