President Duterte admitted that fear over the dreaded Delta variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused him to keep the face shield requirement although many countries do not have the same policy.
Duterte made the statement amid the Senate probe on the government’s supposed purchase of overpriced COVID-19 supplies, including face shields, last year.
In his pre-recorded public address aired Wednesday morning, Sept. 8, the President said that he really wanted to lift the policy since other countries haven’t been requiring their residents to wear face shields outdoors.
“Binabasa ko naman ang ano sa America at lahat, wala namang face shield. Sabi ko na, pwede na sigurong tanggaling ‘yan (I keep myself updated about the situation in America and in other countries and they didn’t have face shields. So I said, maybe we can lift the policy),” he said.
“I believed in good faith noon na talagang hindi na kailangan kasi sa ibang bansa sabi hindi naman [required] (I believed in good faith back then we didn’t need the face shield because other countries did not require it),” he added.
Duterte said the people can blame him for the inconvenience that face shields are bringing them, explaining that the situation got the best of him.
“Noong dumating itong variant na Delta, natakot ako. Yun, mali ko yun (When the Delta variant came into the picture, I got scared. That was my mistake),” he admitted.
“Ako ang nagsabi na, “‘Wag na.’ Admitahin ko yun, walang problema. Akin yun, it was my call (I was the one who said ‘Let’s not lift the face shield policy.’ I admit that, there’s no problem with that. That was my decision, it was my call),” he added.
In June, President Duterte said he preferred that people only be required to wear face shields in hospitals. However, the government’s pandemic task force was opposed to easing the rules on wearing face shields and appealed that the rule is kept, especially indoors.
After the Department of Health (DOH) reported that a total of 17 individuals got infected by the Delta variant on June 21, Duterte decided to keep the wearing of face shields mandatory both indoors and outdoors again.
“I’m constrained to go back to the old practice because of the threat posed by the new variant (Delta). I cannot afford to place the nation, the national interest of the Republic, [in danger] by just sometimes adopting this and being lenient,” President Duterte said in June.
“It would be disastrous for this country. That is why the stricter you are, the better,” he added.