Palace: Wait for IATF final decision on face shield mandate

THE mandatory use of face shields in closed spaces and crowded areas will remain until the pandemic task force makes its final decision on the matter, according to Malacañang.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday, November 8, urged local government units (LGUs) to wait before issuing ordinances since the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) is still studying the existing policy.

“So ang desisyon po ngayon ay kinakailangan ipatupad muna ang face shields habang pinag-aaralan naman po. Hindi naman po natin sinasabi na hindi tatanggalin ‘yan pero antayin naman po natin ang desisyon ng IATF (So for now the mandatory use face shields should be imposed while it is being studied. We are not saying that we will not remove that, but let’s wait for the IATF decision),” he said in an online briefing.

The statement was issued after Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso signed an executive order that said face shields would no longer be required in the city except in medical facilities.

Roque also reminded local chief executives that they are “under the control and supervision of the President in the executive branch of government.”

“IATF exercises derivative authorities from the President because it was created through an executive order. Halos lahat naman po ng desisyon ng IATF is either ratified or binigyan ng Presidente ang kapangyarihan ang IATF na mag-desisyon (Almost every decision of the IATF is either ratified or the President gave the IATF the power to decide),” he said.

“Dahil lahat po ng mga mayor ay nasa control and supervision pa rin po ng ating Presidente, kinakailangan po lahat ng mga mayor sumunod pa rin po sa mga polisiya ng IATF hanggang hindi po nababago (Since all mayors are under the control and supervision of the President, they need to follow the policies of the IATF until they are changed),” the spokesman added.

Further, Roque said that the Manila City government’s executive order was “null and void.”

“Another way of looking at it is null and void po siya (it is null and void) for being in violation of an existing executive policy decreed by the President himself, in the exercise of police powers,” he said.

Likewise, the country’s Department of Health urged LGUs to wait for the IATF before issuing orders to drop the face shield requirement.

“We urge local governments to just hold their executive orders or issuances so we can all be uniform in our implementation and we are all aligned,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The IATF first issued the use of face shields outdoors in December last year.

In September this year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte limited the use of face shields in places that fall under the “3Cs” category: crowded, closed, and close contact.

The Philippines is the only country in the world that requires using face shields in addition to masks.

To date, there are a total of 2,805,294 COVID-19 cases in the country, with 44,521 fatalities and 2,728,696 recoveries.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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