The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) hit President Duterte for asking a reporter to remove mask and face shield during a press conference.
A TV reporter asked Duterte a question during the inauguration of the Light Rail Transit Lune 2 East Extension Project last week but was interrupted by the Chief Executive, saying he could not make out what the reporter was saying.
“Tanggalin mo na lang yan, sabay na lang tayong maka-COVID (Just take it off. Let’s have COVID together),” Duterte said in jest.
In a statement, NUJP stressed that many journalists in the Philippines have already been exposed to the risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since the pandemic started in March 2020.
“While Duterte and those close to him have easy access to medical facilities and vaccines, many media workers do not. In fact, many of our colleagues are still waiting to complete their vaccination and many others have yet to receive their first dose,” the group said.
NUJP added that most correspondents and stringers have had to provide their own personal protective equipment and find ways to get themselves tested.
“Many, especially those outside Metro Manila, do not have safety nets in case they do contract COVID-19,” the group said.
“Comments making light of the coronavirus and directing journalists to remove protective equipment that the government itself says they should always wear also make light of the risks that media workers face during coverage.”
On June 21, Duterte decided to again require people to wear face shields in both outdoor and indoor areas, hours after he announced an end to mandatory face shield wearing.