Require face masks in public, LGUs told

April 06, 2020

EVERY Filipino should be required to wear face mask whether improvised or homemade while in public to help combat the spread of the dangerous coronavirus that claimed hundreds of lives not only in the country but globally.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano urged local government units (LGUs) to pass an ordinance that will make mandatory the wearing of virus protection gear.

The police leadership is also in favor of the passing of such an ordinance to make it easy for them to arrest any violator. 

According to Lt. Gen Guillermo Eleazar, the PNP deputy chief for operations, without an ordinance, the police can only reprimand people who will not wear face masks in public.

"Sa ngayon, what we can do is to caution them, para sila ay pauwiin or deny them entry sa ating mga quarantine controlled points," Eleazar said.

And with the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines rising, Ano on Monday morning emphasized the need to make this precautionary measure a law to ensure that the people are not passing the deadly virus around.

LGUs, he added, must adapt and respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic and drafting an ordinance that requires citizens to wear face masks outside their home is doing just that.

"We must be vigilant. Hindi biro ang coronavirus na ito kaya hinihikayat ko ang mga LGU na tiyakin na ang kanilang mga kababayan ay laging nakasuot ng face mask kapag sila ay lalabas sa pamamagitan ng pagsasabatas ng ordinansa ukol dito. This is our small way of ensuring that the virus will not spread," the DILG chief pointed out.

Ano also recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is now on self-quarantine.

He said that it doesn’t matter what type of a face mask the public is wearing – be it homemade or improvised – for as long as they follow the requirement.

The DILG chief stressed that making mandatory the wearing of face mask would complement other mechanisms that are currently existing in line with the enhanced community quarantine such as social distancing, use of quarantine passes and encouraging people to stay at home among others.

"Kung maipapasa ng mga LGU ang ordinansa ng mandatory wearing of face mask, dagdag na naman ito sa mga umiiral na hakbang ng pamahalaan sa pagpigil sa pagkalat ng coronavirus sa ating mga pamayanan and right now, we cannot be limiting ourselves to minimal preventive measures," he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States of America are mulling changing their stand on the use of face masks in controlling the coronavirus.

WHO initially recommended that community level usage of face masks is not encouraged stressing that it should only be worn by people with COVID-19 symptoms and health care workers.

Ano said that a US study prompted WHO’s and CDC's change of heart. The study suggests that droplets from coughs and sneezes could be projected further than originally thought, hence, requiring people to wear face masks for some protection.

"Despite the fact that people generally are staying at home, hindi pa rin naman natin maiiwasan na minsan ay lumabas sila para bumili ng pagkain at ibang essentials at maaari itong maging pagkakataon para maipasa ang virus kaya lubhang napakahalaga ng pagsusuot ng face masks," he pointed out.