Reminding the public that President Rodrigo Duterte’s mask mandate superseded any local ordinance, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the Philippine National Police (PNP) would “strictly enforce” the mandatory face mask rule nationwide.

In a statement released by the DILG, Año said Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) 151 was “superior to any local ordinance passed by the Cebu provincial government.”

“Republic Act 11332 gave the president the authority to declare a public health emergency and mobilize all government agencies to respond to the pandemic,” Año said.

“We cannot play around with the laws of the land. Even with the passage of a provincial ordinance by Cebu province making the wearing of face masks optional, such ordinance is void and legally infirm and incapable of superseding EOs of the president of the Philippines,” he added.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia earlier issued an EO allowing the optional wearing of face masks in outdoor settings but was overruled by the DILG.

Año said the Philippine National Police (PNP) would “strictly enforce” in Cebu the mandatory face mask rule imposed under EO 151.

“All police officers who refuse to follow orders from higher authorities will be relieved of duty,” he said.

The Philippines is under a Covid-19 state of calamity until Sept. 12, 2022.

Cebu Province is under Alert Level 2 until end-June. John Ezekiel J. Hirro