Is someone profiting from mandatory face shield policy? Senators say it's possible

Published June 23, 2021, 3:44 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senators said Wednesday, June 23, said they will not be surprised if they found out that unscrupulous officials or individuals have been benefitting from the government’s mandatory face shield policy.

The Philippine government is requiring the use of face shields when going outdoors or when in indoor public places. Health officials maintain that face shields provide an added protection against COVID-19. (JANSEN ROMERO/MANILA BULLETIN File Photo)

This, after the Department of Health (DOH) sent to the Senate its report justifying its recommendation to still require the use of face shield against the COVID-19 infection, which Senate President Vicente Sotto III found “not conclusive” for lack of scientific basis.

Senator Francis Pangilinan did not discount the possibility that some people in government may be profiting from the face shield rule.

“I wouldn’t be surprised as was established with the overpriced testing kits, PPEs (personal protective equipment) and testing equipment involving the DOH (Department of Health) exposed in Senate hearings last year,” the opposition senator said, recalling the Senate Committee of the Whole’s inquiry on the government’s COVID-19 response program at the height of the coronavirus outbreak.

Senator Panfilo Lacson also cited issues in the distribution of social amelioration and controversies in the DOH and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

“That is in the realm of possibilities considering all the inconsistencies and conflicting statements of those in charge of the handling of the country’s pandemic response,” Lacson said of the face shield policy.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros echoed Sotto in pointing out the lack of basis for making face shields mandatory outdoors, saying the face gear would only be effective in specific settings, such as workplaces or public transport, where there is close contact among people.

“Para ipilit pa para sa general public use, hindi na tama ‘yan. Hindi ko alam kung saan nanggagaling ang sigasig ng administrasyon na sapilitan tayong pagsuotin lahat ng face shield (To insist on its use by the general public, it’s not right. I don’t know where the administration is getting its zeal for insisting that we all wear face shields),” she said.

Senator Joel Villanueva, for his part, maintained that vaccination is still the key to addressing the spread of COVID-19.

“To say otherwise is to have a clearer picture blurred by the mist we have created on our own face shields. Kaya di natin masisi ‘yong iba na maghaka-haka na malaking raket o negosyo kasi ang face shields (That’s why we cannot blame others for thinking that there is racket in face shields),” Villanueva said in a separate statement.

“The more people we vaccinate, the sooner we get to drop our face shields, and even face masks, in certain conditions,” he pointed out.

“Why inconvenience the public when there is really no added value in terms of protection?” Villanueva asked.