MANILA — There is "nothing wrong" if the government wavers on certain protocols on COVID-19, Malacañang argued on Tuesday, after President Rodrigo Duterte took back new rules on the use of face shields.
Duterte last week limited the use of the plastic face coverings to hospitals. On Monday, he again required face shields in public areas, both indoors and outdoors, after the health department confirmed 4 more cases of the more infectious Delta COVID-19 variant.
"Nagbago ba ho ang Presidente ng desisyon? Opo," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
"Dahil ang sabi nga po niya kahapon, 'yong kaniyang nasabi na hindi naman niya talagang ninanais na maging bagong polisiya ay bago niya nakuha ang impormasyon sa bagong anyo ng Delta variant," Roque said in a press briefing.
(Did the President change his decision? Yes. This is because as he said yesterday, his previous statement that he did not want to be a policy was before he got new information on the Delta variant.)
The Philippines has detected a total of 17 cases of the Delta variant that was first observed in India, where it spawned a catastrophic surge in coronavirus infections.
"Wala pong mali mag-flipflop kung mayroon kasing mga supervening events… Depende kung anong nadidiskubre ng siyensya, kailangan marunong tayo mag-adapt," said Roque.
"It will continue, the process of adapting, as this disease further develops and mutates… Wala pong flipflopping d'yan dahil tayo'y nagpapatupad ng mga proteksyon alinsunod na rin sa kung paano nag-mutate ang virus," he added.
(There is nothing wrong with flip-flopping, if there are supervening events. Depending on what science discovers, we need to know how to adapt. The process of adapting will continue… There is no flip-flopping there because we implement protection measures based on how the virus mutates.)
House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the Duterte administration is "apparently deliberately making a flip-flopping stand on the face shield issue via its 'alis-bawi' pronouncements "to camouflage its inept vaccine roll-out."
"Seemingly, the Duterte administration wants to deflect and camouflage the issue of its palpak, inefficient, slow and inequitable vaccine roll out," Zarate said in a statement.
Face shields, used with anti-virus masks and physical distancing, could offer up to 99 percent of protection against COVID-19, said Roque, quoting health experts.
Authorities are working towards a "mask-less Christmas", where the public will no longer have to use face coverings, he said.
"Kaya rin naman nating gawin ito 'pag na-contain na natin sa Metro Manila itong coronavirus," Roque said.
(This can be done once we contain the coronavirus outbreak in Metro Manila.)
The government in December 2020 required the use of face shields.
"Visor type face shields are not allowed. Face shields shall cover the entire face, completely cover the sides of the face," said Roque.
The Philippines has logged some 1.3 million coronavirus infections and about 23,000 deaths, the second highest COVID-19 tally in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.
Video courtesy of PTV