The fuss on the usage of face shield brought confusion to the public after several inconsistent statements were issued by government authorities.
This issue intensified following a post of Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Twitter on Thursday morning, June 17, mentioning that President Rodrigo Duterte had agreed to relax the policy and that face shields should only be worn inside hospitals.
Later that day, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed the Senate leader’s words.
“The President did say that the wearing of face shield should only be in hospitals… What the President has decided, then that’s the policy,” Roque uttered in a press briefing.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, however, still rejected the majority’s pleas, reiterating that the modification of the current policy on the use of face shields will be possible once the country’s COVID-19 vaccination rate improves.
Duque said that the Department of Health (DOH) will make an appeal if the national government decides to change or remove the policy.
Meanwhile on Thursday evening, the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 recommended to the President the continued mandatory wearing of face shields in enclosed and indoor spaces such as hospitals, schools, workplaces and commercial establishments.
In a statement, Roque clarified that the policy will not change until Duterte decides on the IATF recommendation.
“While waiting for the President’s decision on the matter, the existing policy on the use of face shields remains in effect,” Roque added, retracting his remark earlier that Duterte’s statement is considered policy.
Prior to that, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said on Wednesday, June 16, that face shields may be removed when outdoors.
This was immediately disputed by Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire who said that the public should maintain the use of face shields in certain spaces as it is still the government’s “standing policy.”