Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Saturday justified the thick crowd at an event he attended on Bantayan Island, saying it was held outdoors and that health protocols were observed.
As shown in images that have gone viral, Roque was at the tourist destination in Cebu addressing a large number of people, which critics said looked like they were breaking anti-coronavirus regulation.
Although people in the crowd were wearing protective masks, they appeared not to observe social distancing.
In a statement, Roque said the conditions of the event were beyond his control.
He said he "was totally taken aback" by the scene.
"The activity where I was seen speaking before a crowd was organized by the local government, which I had no control as a guest," said the presidential spokesperson.
"I was later informed, that the local official/s mentioned in interview/s that they did not expect the huge turnout of people as well.
"Be that as it may, they advised the public to wear face masks and there was general compliance, as seen in the pictures that came out."
Roque said he made sure not to come into contact with the people present at the event.
"The venue was open air as it was held by the beach but I had to reiterate for the audience to keep on their masks," he said.
"As a precautionary measure, I observed physical distancing and reminded those who were present to observe the minimum health standards. Also, I did not shake hands and I wore a face mask."
It was not the first time Roque has drawn flak in connection with COVID-19 protocols.
In July, he defended his trip to Subic where he swam with dolphins, saying "wala pong nalabag."
Earlier this month, Roque was caught on video singing in a public venue.