Poe: Face mask rule inside private cars an ‘avenue for corruption’

Published February 10, 2021, 4:39 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The government’s order mandating the wearing of face masks inside private vehicles could also pave the way for corruption, Senator Grace Poe said on Wednesday, February 10.

Senator Grace Poe
(Office of Sen. Grace Poe / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, the Senate Public Service Committee chairperson lambasted anew the Interagency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for its decision to require passengers of private vehicles to wear face mask regardless if they live in the same households.

“First of all, you’re in your car with your family members, when you go home, you have to keep those masks on? I can understand carpooling when you’re with individuals of different households and also in public utility vehicles, but not in your own private cars,” Poe said.

“So again, this is an avenue for corruption because you can be apprehended and even if you’re with your family, they can fine you,” she raised.

Poe said the IATF should be helping to “alleviate the hardships of our countrymen” during the COVID-19 pandemic and not burden them with its new policies. 

“Saan ka ba naman nakakita ‘non (Where else can you see that being implemented)? Talaga bang pinag-aralan ‘yan ng IATF (Did the IATF really study that)? At kung hindi alam ng IATF (And if the IATF is not fully aware), it is the responsibility of the DOTr, the LTO to tell them” ‘I don’t think this is necessary’,” Poe stressed.

“I don’t know if they’re out of touch, if they’re incompetent or they simply don’t care,” she also said of the authorities.

During the Senate committee’s hearing, LTO chief Assistant Secretary Edgard Galvante told senators that the agency was only acting on the policy issued by the IATF.

” Hindi po ito independently nilabas po ng LTO at LTO ang gumawa ng pamantayan, hindi po (This was not independently released by the LTO and that the LTO did not create the guidelines alone, no),” Galvante said.

Under the policy, drivers who are traveling alone may remove their face masks but when with passengers, all should wear face masks “regardless if they are from the same household.”

In the memorandum circular issued by the LTO in May 2020, non-compliance with the face mask rule will be considered “reckless driving” for private vehicles.

Based on the transportation department’s Joint Administrative Order 2014-01, reckless driving shall be fined P2,000 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense, and P10,000 for the subsequent offenses.