Health reform advocate: Public safety is more important than local autonomy

More than two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, the mandatory use of face masks continues to be a topic of debates among experts in the Philippines.


Face masks have long been proven effective at reducing the transmission of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, when worn consistently and correctly, and yet debates in relation with the country's face mask policy persist.

Health reform advocate and former special adviser of the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 Dr. Anthony “Tony” Leachon, on Monday, June 13, once again reiterated why the Philippines should not lift its face mask requirement yet.

“Public safety over local autonomy. We don’t want higher alert level system and lockdowns. Let’s not ditch face masks if we can’t ramp up our booster program. We should think ahead and stay focused,” said Leachon in a tweet.

The statement came after Senator Aquilino Pimentel III urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to make the use of face masks “optional,” leaving the decision to local government units (LGUs) across the country to assess the Covid-19 situation in their area and implement rules in their jurisdictions.

On the other hand, the Department of Health (DOH), on Monday, June 13, warned the public about the possible escalation of alert level status in Metro Manila, adding that 13 of the 17 municipalities in the region have observed an uptick in Covid-19 infections.

While Metro Manila remained at the low risk classification, adherence to minimum public health standards, such as, but not limited to the use of face masks and observance of physical distancing are strongly advised.

Moreover, Leachon, in an interview over DZRH, previously stated that the national government should make the country “resilient and protected” first by ramping up its booster rate before lifting the public health measures against Covid-19.