MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday admitted that he is not used to wearing anti-virus masks and would sometimes take them off, despite authorities' advice to keep face coverings on to avoid catching COVID-19.
"I’ve been criticized, tama kayo na eto si Duterte nagsasalita, hindi naman sinusunod. Tama kayo na hindi naman magma-mask. Tama kayo," Duterte said in a televised speech.
(I’ve been criticized, you are right, Duterte talks, does not follow. You are right that I don't wear a mask. You are right.)
"Hindi ho ako holdaper na sanay magsalita nitong naka—kaya tinatanggal ko," he said, without a face mask on.
(I am not a robber who us used to wearing a mask. That's why I remove it.)
To avoid COVID-19, the World Health Organization recommends wearing a mask when one is indoors and regardless of distance from others.
Duterte acknowledged he runs the risk of catching COVID-19 when he takes off his mask.
"May Vice President man, siya na ang susunod. Wala tayong magawa," he said.
(There's a Vice President anyway, she'll be next in line. We can't do anything.)
As recently as last month, the President had reminded the public to wear masks properly.
"Wear it properly. Kasi 'yung iba nagma-mask ta's nakikita ko 'yung ilong ninyo sumasabit doon just on the edge of the mask, the upper portion. It does not really give a relief at all kung ganun ka-careless ang tao na gumagamit," he said in a public briefing.
(Others wear a mask but with their noses still visible, just hanging on the edge of the mask... It does not really give a relief at all if the person using a mask is that careless.)
"I hope that you would be religious in obeying the injunctions na sinasabi ng ating mga medical persons, simply because we're trying to save our country," he added.
The government requires Filipinos to wear anti-virus masks and full face shields in all public areas.