MANILA — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on November 8, the Inter-Agency Task Force ((IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is still assessing the policy on face shield. 

It comes as mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR) agreed to lift the mandatory use of face shields, except in critical areas such as hospitals and public transport vehicles as confirmed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority on Monday. 

The same day, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso signed an executive order declaring the use of face shields as non-mandatory except in hospital setting, medical clinics and other medical facilities.

“Ang aking pakiusap sa mga local government units natin, sa ating mga mayor, lahat ng mga mayor ay under the control and supervision of the President in the Executive branch of government, at ang desisyon ng IATF ay desisyon din ng ating Presidente,” Roque said.

“So, ang desisyon ngayon ay kinakailangan ipatupad muna ang face shield habang pinag-aaralan naman… Antayin naman natin ang desisyon ng IATF,” he added.

“Until hindi nababago ang desisyon ng IATF, the order of the President, through the IATF, is ipatupad pa rin ang pagsusuot ng ating mga face shields.”

Roque also described Manila City government’s face shield executive order as null and void “for being in violation of an existing executive policy decreed by the President himself, in the exercise of police powers.”

The Department of Health (DOH), meanwhile, echoed Roque’s statements, urging local officials to wait for experts’ recommendation and the National Government’s decision on the use of face shield. 

Last September, President Rodrigo Duterte announced a policy recommending the use of face shield only in areas that are crowded, closed, and could cause close contact. 

In a report by ABS-CBN News, DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said last November 4, their department will meet with the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to discuss the matter this week and then present experts’ recommendation to the IATF by Thursday. 

“Nanawagan po tayo sa ating mga local governments, antayin po natin ang IATF na makapagbigay ng kenneling agreement or decision regarding the face shield,” Vergeire told reporters.

“Until we can have the IATF resolution, we urge all local governments to hold their executive orders or issuance so we can all be uniform in our implementation and we are all aligned. We leave it to (the Department of Interior and Local Government) to manage this kind of issue,” she added.

Government’s indecisiveness

In another report by GMA News, Vice-president Leni Robredo expressed dismay over the government’s indecisiveness on the mandatory use of face shields.

“Ako, sa totoo lang, medyo naasiwa ako na at this point, issue pa din sa atin iyong face shield. Imbes sana na pagkakagastusan natin iyon, idagdag na lang natin sa pondo sa bakuna,” Robredo told a media briefing on Monday. 

In the same media briefing, former Health secretaries and presidential candidate Robredo’s advisers Dr. Manuel Dayrit and Dr. Esperanza Cabral have been asked to give their medical opinion about the mandatory use of face shields. 

“Para sa akin, puwede nang walang face shield. Gumamit lang ng mask,” Dayrit said, which Cabral seconded.