Need to remove your face mask while in public? 'Just explain to authorities'- Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2020 03:28 PM

MANILA - If there is a need to briefly remove their face masks while out, individuals should just explain to authorities why, in case they are questioned. 

Malacañang gave this advice to the public Thursday, after a journalist was questioned for briefly removing his mask to drink water while out in public.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said rules must be implemented "pursuant to human experience."

"Alam niyo po ang pag-inom kinakailangan ng taumbayan. Siguro po explain lang natin sa mga pumupuna na ang ginagawa lang natin ay tinanggal ang mask para uminom," Roque said during a Palace press briefing.

"Wala naman pong problema 'yun pag na-explain," he added.

(You know to drink is a need. Perhaps we could just explain if questioned that we are removing the mask just to drink. There won't be a problem if you explain.)

Roque made the remark after journalist Howie Severino was questioned on Wednesday when he "momentarily" pulled down his mask for a drink while on a break from a bike ride in Quezon City.

Severino was brought to the Amoranto Stadium and was among hundreds, including women and elderly, who were given a seminar on the proper use of face masks in public.

"I had just finished my drink and returned the bottle to the store before I could pull my mask back up, when at least two vehicles of QC law enforcers arrived to tell me I was talking without my mask covering my mouth and had to be brought to Amoranto for a seminar," Severino said in a Facebook post.

Roque said the incident only showed the strict implementation of the mandatory wearing of face masks in public places. The Philippines requires the public to wear face masks whenever they are out of their homes.

"Tingin ko naman 'yung insidenteng 'yan nakita naman nila dinala lang sila sa isang seminar so talagang mahigpit ang pagpapatupad sa Quezon City pero dahil nangunguna nga sa Metro Manila ang Quezon City," Roque said referring to how the city has the most number of COVID-19 infections in the capital region.

(With that incident, I think they saw when they were brought to a seminar that Quezon City has strict implementation of its policies because it is leading in Metro Manila.)

Top government officials are already in talks with Metro Manila mayors for a common ordinance to harmonize penalties for those found in violation of the face mask policy, the Palace spokesman said.

"Minungkahi na po na magkaroon ng common ordinance para sa magpapataw ng parusa sa mga taong di nagsusuot ng mask sa mga pampublikong lugar. So magkakaroon po 'yan ng common ordinance," Roque said.

(There was a proposal to have a common ordinance for penalties for those who don't wear face masks in public places. There will be a common ordinance.)

The Philippines on Wednesday reached another record high of new COVID-19 cases with 2,539 new infections, bringing the total confirmed cases to 50,359 since the outbreak started.