(PNA file photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will look into the proposal to make Cebu City the pilot area for the implementation of the optional wearing of face masks.

In a media briefing Friday, Department of Health (DOH) Officer in Charge, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, said the IATF resolutions, which include the face mask mandate, are still in effect.

Kasi hindi naman natin tinanggal ang IATF (The IATF has not been abolished.) We're just recommending it to be reconstituted,” she said.

On Thursday, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has agreed “in principle” to temporarily hold the executive order on the non-obligatory wearing of face masks in the city's open spaces.

“Based on the directives of the President when we had a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, he said that we need to immediately convene the IATF so that we can study this proposal to lift the masking mandate,” Vergeire said.

Earlier, the DOH said wearing face masks decreases the possibility of infection by 70 percent to 80 percent while reminding Filipinos that decreasing the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases does not mean the virus is no longer around.

“Maybe towards the end of the year, and part of that, of course, would be for us to address the issue that some areas in this province or Region 7 (Central Visayas) are already implementing this in spite of the resolution of the IATF,” Vergeire said. “We will have a meeting next week together with our experts, of course, so, we can weigh in kung ano ang pinaka-appropriate at saka safe sa ating (what would be the most appropriate and safe for our) population if we continue on with this.” (PNA)