Amid confusing policy, Eleazar tells cops not to arrest non-wearers of face shields

Published June 18, 2021, 3:01 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Individuals who will be caught without face shields in open and enclosed spaces will not be arrested by police, but will instead be “reminded” of existing anti-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protocols.

In this photo taken on September 19, 2020, people are seen wearing face shields as they queue up at a public market in Manila. (Ted Aldine /AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar gave these instructions to policemen on Friday, June 18, as national officials seemingly struggled to give clarity on the proper use of the protective equipment.

“I-caution na lang muna natin ang mga walang face shield. Karamihan sa ating mga kababayan ay nasanay nang magsuot ng face shield at para doon sa mga makikitang hindi nagsusuot nito, paalalahanan na lang muna natin (Let us just caution those who have no face shields. Most of our countrymen are already used to wearing face shields, so for those who are not wearing one, let us just remind them),” he said.

The PNP chief issued the remark after President Duterte was quoted as saying by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III that face shields should now only be used inside hospitals. Malacañang confirmed this on Thursday, June 17.

However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that the use of face shields in public places would still be implemented unless a resolution is released by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID)–the government’s pandemic task force–to amend the policy.

Eleazar pointed out that while Duterte’s supposed remarks on face shield use was acknowledged by the Palace, the IATF immediately made a recommendation to continue the mandatory wearing of face shields as well as face masks.

“The latest recommendation of the IATF to the President is to continue making mandatory the wearing of face shields in enclosed spaces, commercial areas, public transport, terminals and even places of worship,” he said.

“With this, we will continue to enforce the existing policy until the President decides on the matter and the IATF amends the guidelines,” he added.

The PNP Chief, however, reiterated his reminder to cops on the ground “not to hurt persons who will be apprehended for not wearing face shields”.

He also instructed them to distribute face masks to those who have none.

Should there be changes on the face shield policy, Eleazar said the PNP will immediately make the necessary adjustments.

“Sa ngayon, status quo muna at susundin muna namin kung ano ang isinasaad ng guidelines para maiwasan ang pagkakaroon ng kalituhan ang publiko sa bagay na ito (For now, we will maintain the status quo and follow what the guidelines say to avoid confusion among the public regarding this matter),” he said.

The use of face shields in public places sparked a debate after Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso raised his objection to the policy.

Last June 2, Moreno said that the use of face shields in public places should be scrapped in order to spare poor Filipinos from having to buy such item.

“Tayo na lang yata sa buong mundo ang nagre-require ng face shield sa kalsada. Dapat pag-isipan uli ito (It appears we are the only country in the world that requires the use of face shield while on the streets. We should rethink this),” the Manila mayor said.