Video courtesy of PTV
President Rodrigo Duterte took responsibility for the government's previously flip-flopping rules on the use of face shields against COVID-19.
Duterte in June limited the use of the plastic face coverings on top of face masks to hospitals. Days later, he again required face shields in public areas, both indoors and outdoors, after the health department confirmed the first few cases of the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant.
"Noong dumating itong variant na Delta, natakot ako. Iyon, mali ko ‘yon. Ako ang nagsabi na huwag na. Admitahin ko ‘yon, walang problema. Akin ‘yon. It was my call," Duterte said in a taped national address that aired on Wednesday.
(When the Delta variant came, I got scared. That was my mistake, I was the one who said it was no longer needed. I will admit that, no problem. That was mine, it was my call.)
"But I believe in good faith noon na talagang hindi na kailangan kasi sa ibang bansa sabi hindi naman," he added.
(But I previously believed in good faith that it was no longer needed because other countries said it wasn't.)
Duterte has denied corruption in the government's alleged overpriced purchase of face shields last year, which is under scrutiny at the Senate.
The President's spokesman last week rejected insinuations of a supposed link between alleged corruption and the mandatory use of face shields. Most other countries do not require the use of face shields on top of masks as a standard against COVID-19.
The Philippines has among the highest numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in Asia and has been battling an epidemic since March last year, which has hamstrung efforts to revive an economy that contracted more than 9 percent in 2020.
Cases in the past 30 days alone accounted for more than a fifth of the country's 2.1 million cases, while total deaths have exceeded 34,400.
The World Health Organization earlier said it was reviewing the Philippines' experience in using face shields as an additional layer of protection against COVID-19
— With a report from Reuters