Gov't starts to give out free face masks to the poor --Go

Senator and chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography Christopher “Bong” Go joined virtually the launch of the community distribution of face masks held at the Ynares Compound in Antipolo City on Wednesday, August 12.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go (OFFICE OF SEN. BONG GO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Last month, I urged the government to enforce a stronger mask-wearing policy in the country. Naghihirap na po ang mga Pilipino at karamihan ay walang pambili ng mask. I appealed to the concerned government agencies to use their available resources to provide more face masks, especially to the poor. Today, we are launching the free mask distribution program,” Go said in his message at the event.

The new program was created in response to President Duterte’s directive to strictly enforce the minimum health standards and provide face masks to vulnerable sectors that include households with senior citizens, pregnant women, persons with special health conditions, and Social Amelioration Program (SAP) and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries. An initial 10,000 face masks were distributed in Antipolo.

“Sa pamamagitan ng programang ito, sinisiguro natin na magkakaroon ng face masks ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan at ang mga miyembro ng vulnerable sectors,” he explained.

He acknowledged many Filipino families hit hard by the crisis do not have enough resources to buy masks. Hence, Go said that the government must prioritize providing free masks to protect poor and vulnerable sectors.

“Inoobliga natin silang magsuot ng face masks kahit halos wala na nga silang pambili ng pagkain. Uunahin siyempre nila ang bumili ng pagkain kaysa bumili ng mask. Para naman mabuhay, kailangan nilang bumalik sa trabaho pero hindi sila makakapagtrabaho nang maayos kung hindi sila protektado. Kaya dapat lang na bigyan natin sila ng libreng masks,” said the Senator.

“Bilang pagmamalasakit sa kanilang pinagdadaanan, sisiguraduhin natin na pagdating sa serbisyo mula sa gobyerno, sila ang ating uunahin palagi. It is for them – the poor and the vulnerable – that we are launching the free mask distribution program today,” Go added.

In his speech, the senator also expressed his gratitude to the medical frontliners for their service and sacrifice in the fight against the pandemic. He encouraged Filipinos to show their support to the frontliners by diligently adhering to health and safety measures to contain the further spread of the virus, especially wearing masks, observing social distancing and proper hygiene by washing hands frequently.

“Our medical frontliners are sacrificing their own lives to save others so in our own way of showing compassion to them, and through our cooperation, we can save their lives as well,” said Go.

Go cited that according to experts, proper wearing of the right kind of mask decreases the risk of catching and spreading the virus by 85%. With social distancing and the use of face shields, the risk may be reduced by more than 90%.

“This is why in the absence of a vaccine, wearing a mask remains a must,” Go stressed.