Former Vice President Jejomar Binay on Friday urged government officials to speak with one voice regarding health protocol regulations.
Binay made the appeal after the public was left puzzled by recent pronouncements made by President Rodrigo Duterte and other government officials regarding the use of face shields.
“Government changed its policy on face shields at least three times in a single day. All they needed to do was coordinate. But that’s all, it wasn’t done. So, I’ll repeat my question then: don’t they have a group chat?” said Binay.
“It would be nice if the face shields were free. But we are obliged, under pain of being penalized, to wear one. The money that ordinary Filipinos have spent on face shields could have been used to buy food and other basic needs,” he added.
President Duterte earlier said face shields need only be worn in hospitals, which was confirmed by his spokesman Harry Roque.
“The President did say that the wearing of face shields should only be in hospitals. All I’m confirming is the President said that and of course what the President said becomes a presidential policy,” said Roque.
But members of the Inter-Agency Task Force recommended to the Chief Executive the continued mandatory wearing of face shields in enclosed and indoor spaces, including hospitals, schools, workplaces, and commercial establishments.
They said wearing the face shields gives the people more protection against the deadly coronavirus disease.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said wearing face shield on top of a face mask is still required as the country continues its battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
But according to Binay, the people are spending money with “something that has not been proven to give 100% added protection, as clearly shown by the debate even among people in government.”
The former vice president said government officials obsess over the minor details while neglecting the things that matter such as contact tracing, testing, and vaccination.
“Government response on these three critical areas remain inadequate. It is sorely lacking and needs to improve and that is exactly what the World Bank says,” he said. “Will we ever wonder why Covid cases are still high.”
Binay earlier suggested that government officials meet first and agree before making any official pronouncements. If such meeting is physically impossible because of lockdown restrictions, he added, these officials can always talk using group chat apps on their mobile phones.
Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso had called on the government to lift its policy mandating the wearing of face shields in all public places to ease the burden on the people.
The IATF in December last year made it mandatory for the public to wear face masks and full face shields in all public spaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19.