Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed that face shields should only be used in hospitals.
"Last night, the President agreed that face shields should only be used in hospitals. Allowed us to remove ours! Attn DOH!" said Sotto on Twitter.
Malacañang has yet to confirm Sotto's statement.
Sotto tweeted the information a day after Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said face shields can be removed when outdoors since the risk of COVID-19 transmission in open spaces is low.
Senator Joel Villanueva confirmed that Duterte asked them to remove their face shields during an event in Malacañang on Wednesday night.
In a news conference during the symbolic vaccination of seafarers in Manila, Villanueva said he and fellow lawmakers Juan Miguel Zubiri and Bong Go were in Malacañang with Sotto on Wednesday night.
Villanueva said Duterte asked them about face shields.
“We made mention about what happened during the hearing, na tinanong din namin ‘yun, kung meron bang ibang bansa [na may policy about face shields],” he said.
“Pero wala po ni isa sa'min makapagsabi kung may isang bansa na talagang ‘yan ‘yung patakaran, magsuot ng face shield.”
(We mentioned what happened during the hearing, that we asked whether there are other countries that also require the use of face shields. But none of us could say whether there is one other country that really mandates it.)
“The President himself said, ‘Then you don’t have to wear it.’ Lahat kami nagtanggalan ng face shield. Ako mismo ay naroon at narinig ko sa ating pangulo,” Villanueva added.
(The president himself said, ‘Then you don’t have to wear it.’ We all removed our face shields. I was there myself and I heard that from the president.)
Zubiri likewise confirmed that Duterte had asked them to remove their face shields as they were having a hard time hearing each other.
However, he explained that their situation was “unique” as they were all tested for COVID-19 — both RT-PCR and antigen — before attending the event in Malacañang.
“That made everyone absolutely safe in that particular moment. I would like to add that this was an off the cuff discussion and not officially discussed on stage or with the public,” he said.
Meanwhile, sought for clarification regarding Vega's statement, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Wednesday said he just reiterated “the standing policy.”
Vergeire said Joint Memorandum Circular 2021-0001 states that face shields are required to be worn in enclosed public spaces, schools, workplaces, commercial establishments, public transport and terminals, and places of worship.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno earlier this month urged the national government to rethink the policy requiring the use of face shields when outdoors. —with Julia Mari Ornedo and Hana Bordey/KBK, GMA News