Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte has enumerated what he believed were the government’s missteps in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, which struck the country in early 2020.

(Martin Sanchez/ Unsplash)

Villafuerte made these remarks in the context of his call for a more relaxed rule on the use of face masks outside people’s residences.

“It’s time our health authorities do the right thing at the right time for a change, starting with the possible relaxation of the face mask protocol,” he said in a statement Monday, Sept. 5.

“We could not keep on addressing Covid-related concerns belatedly, as what the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) has unfortunately done in the past,” he said. Formed during the previous Duterte administration, the IATF has been the main body tasked with recommending anti-Covid measures to Malacañang before they are imposed on the public.

Villafuerte noted that the Philippines “have had the strictest and longest lockdowns, which was one overly stringent policy that had made the Philippines one of the last economies in the region to recover from the pandemic”.

“We were also the only one to require the complementary use of face shields, but there is apparently no scientific data to prove that the use of face shields over face masks have indeed helped us contain the spread of the lethal virus,” he noted.

“We have been able to purchase anti-Covid jabs on time but have apparently failed to make a quicker vaccine rollout, leading to the current conundrum of wasted public money as a result of expired vaccines,” the National Unity Party (NUP) president further said.

“It’s about time for our health authorities to seize the bull by its horns, so to speak, and decide on whether to prolong the mandatory use of face masks outside our homes as a national policy or prolong this anti-Covid 19 health protocol only in Metro Manila and other areas with still high coronavirus caseloads, and allow local executives in the rest of the country with relatively lower infection rates to decide on whether to carry on with the mandatory policy or make it voluntary for their respective constituents,” he said.

“Should our health authorities opt to keep this mandatory-use policy, the government should consider giving free face masks to poor and other low-income families at this time when these folk are already having a difficult time making both ends meet in the face of the seemingly endless spike in petroleum products and basic foodstuff like rice and sugar,” Villafuerte said.

“Giving our LGU officials greater autonomy in deciding on the use of face masks could possibly be a big help in accelerating our country’s adjustment to the ‘new normal’, more so now when countries like Thailand and Singapore have already lifted the obligatory use of face masks in most places and by most people,” he added.

Source: Manila Bulletin (