Duterte says wearing of face shields just a 'small inconvenience'
President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on June 21, 2021.
Presidential Photo/Joey Dalumpines

Duterte says wearing of face shields just a 'small inconvenience'

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - June 22, 2021 - 4:15pm

MANILA, Philippines — The mandatory wearing of face shields is a "small inconvenience" that can avert a "disaster," President Rodrigo Duterte said, as he stressed that the Philippines cannot afford another surge in COVID-19 infections.

Duterte has decided to require the wearing of face shields in both open and enclosed spaces, adopting the recommendation of experts who noted that the facial cover provides an additional layer of protection against the virus.

The president said he is constrained to require the wearing of both face masks and face shields because of the dangers posed by the new and more transmissible COVID-19 variants.

"The first wave (of the pandemic), it has depleted really the resources of government. Now, another one would be disastrous for this country. That is why the stricter you are, the better," Duterte said during his pre-recorded public address last Monday.

"I said that we must triple our effort...we cannot afford a second wave because it might be far worse than the first, and then we will have a problem (with) our economy, and I said it would be a disaster for the country," he added.

Duterte said the Delta variant of COVID-19, which was first detected in India, is an "aggressive infection that poses a very grave danger" so he was left with no recourse but to adopt the experts' recommendation.

"It’s a small inconvenience, actually. I know that it is inconvenient really to be wearing the mask, adjusting it from time to time. But that is only a very small price to pay rather than gamble with doing away with it and courting disaster," the President said.

Casual chat

Prior to Duterte's announcement, confusion rose over the conflicting pronouncements of officials on the use of face shields.

Last Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said there is no need to wear face shields in open spaces since the risk of transmitting COVID-19 in such a setting is very low. Cabinet Secretary and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) co-chairman Karlo Nograles then clarified that people are still required to wear both face shields and face masks.

On the same day, Senate President Vicente Sotto III tweeted that Duterte had told lawmakers that face shields should only be worn in hospitals. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed last Thursday that the president made such a remark but the IATF could still make an appeal. Roque then announced that the IATF had recommended to the President the mandatory wearing of face shields in enclosed or indoor spaces.

During a press briefing last Monday, Roque said the wearing of face shields is no longer required outdoors because it was not covered by the IATF's appeal. But just hours after the briefing, he tweeted that the president has decided to require the use of face shields in both open and enclosed spaces because of the risks posed by the Delta variant.  

Duterte apologized to the public for discussing the issue publicly, noting that many people thought the government was ready to do away with the wearing of face shields.

"When I mentioned about the face shield, I was only shooting the breeze with the congressmen, the members of Congress who were there. I never said with finality that we will do away with the face shield," Duterte said.

"But I’d like to tell you that beforehand, when I was, I said, reviewing the international news, when I heard about it, I said we may be wrong in discussing this in public because people thought that it was a done deal. No, it was not. It was just a casual chat," he added.

Asked at a press briefing yesterday about the government's flip-flopping on a number of policies, Roque said there is nothing wrong with flip-flopping if there are supervening events like the emergence of the Delta variant.

"It depends on what science will discover. We should learn how to adapt. It will continue. The process of adapting, as this disease further develops and mutates, will continue and there is no flip flopping there because we are implementing protective measures," he added. 


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