Wear face mask for our loved ones

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

The recurring noise on the issue of wearing or non-wearing of face masks is understandable.

It has been nearly three years from the time we started wearing face mask following the onset of COVID-19 in our country. There must have been face mask fatigue among many of us. There are those who wear it for the simple reason that they do not want to be penalized.

When COVID-19 was at its peak, wearing a face mask gave us some sense of safety. In fact, everyone can still recall the long queue in all drug stores throughout the country just to buy face masks. The price at that time was even skyrocketing, yet we were scrambling to buy it.

But as time went by, not a few relaxed their guard. And what weakens all the more our sense of necessity to wear the mask was the fact that during the recent campaign period mammoth crowds in political rallies did not produce the much-feared spike in cases. There was even a joke that in the Philippines only an election can stop the rise of COVID-19.

Perhaps the fatigue that the people continue to experience was at the back of the mind of the governor when she issued an executive order (EO) to the effect that wearing of face mask in open and well-ventilated spaces is not anymore required. Maybe she wanted to unburden the Cebuanos so that they may at least feel a kind of return to normalcy.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) lost no time to emphasize that nothing has changed in the law that requires the wearing of face mask “at all times” in closed places. But IATF enumerated exceptions also to the general rule.

Scrutinizing carefully Gwen’s order, I found out that it does not run counter at all to the IATF rules. The part of the EO says,” the use of face masks shall be optional in well-ventilated and open spaces. However, persons are highly encouraged to continue to wear their masks especially in crowded outdoor areas.”

In fact, part of the preceding paragraph says, “wearing of face masks shall be required only in closed and/or air-conditioned spaces.” This is actually in harmony with the IATF rules.

It seems that the reaction of DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, whose power will end on June 30 of this year, is out of proportion to the EO of the governor. If there is really a little difference between the IATF order and that of the Cebu governor’s, the same is not worth the trouble.

My view is that we have to continue wearing our face mask not just because there is a law that penalizes doing the opposite. We wear it because we want to protect our loved ones. They say the best mindset is that we wear a mask not only because we want to protect ourselves but also because we want to protect our loved ones, especially when they are vulnerable. This springs from the fact that we do not know whether we are already carrying the virus.

There is science behind the wearing of the face mask. I am yearning to see the day when we shall have already completely defeated the virus or have brought it to a manageable level. And only the people who have knowledge of the nature of this virus will be in the position to say when to not wear our face mask anymore.

Again, wear a face mask for our loved ones.


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