The latest word on the Philippines’ very long—and unique—face shield saga is that it is no longer required outdoors.
Face shields are now only required to be worn under conditions that meet “the Three C’s”: closed, crowded, or those that require close contact (wait, we count four c’s). This announcement was made by President Rodrigo Duterte Wednesday night, September 22, during his Talk to the Nation address.
“I was informed that itong the Technical Advisory Group and the medical experts on the use of face shields, puwede na tanggalin sa labas. No more face shields outside,” said Duterte.
One might recall that confusing time in June this year, when Malacañang kept reversing its position on the face shield requirement—first saying the requirement was going to be abolished, and then later that same day saying it was to be retained after all.
Even then, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) had recommended that face shields only be used indoors, but Duterte nixed the proposal. “Ngayon, sabi ko takot ako sa—lalo na ‘yung pagdating ng COVID D [Delta variant]. I got so scared that I ordered the reimposition of the face shields. Ang akin naman nito sabi ko any—maski gaano kaliit ‘yung contributing—contributing factor niya to avoid COVID, okay na lang,” Duterte said on Wednesday, explaining why he had kept the requirement in place. “What’s inconvenience?”
But now, with Covid-19 cases still high, Duterte concedes that his was a “what you would call a knee reaction [sic] noong dumating ‘yung balita na pumapasok—mabilis na ang pasok ng COVID D [Delta variant] dito sa ating bansa,” Duterte said. “So, I have ordered that the implementation guidelines be issued immediately.”
In the meantime, Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Martin Diño also went on air Wednesday to ask vaccinated Filipinos to wear their vaccination cards like IDs around their necks.
Speaking at a Laging Handa public briefing on the government’s PTV channel, Diño said, “Ito na sana ang maging sakripisyo ng bawat Filipinong nabakunahan. Kung ikaw ay bakunado na, paglabas mo ng bahay isuot mo na iyong vaccination card.”
Forgetting that the Philippines is not an office building, Diño said that wearing vaccination cards would make it easy for local authorities to check who is vaccinated and who is not. “Paglabas mo ng bahay hindi ka na maabala ng pulis, ng barangay, na tatanungin ka, nasaan ang vaccination card mo? Kung antimanong isasabit mo na sa iyong dibdib, di ba?”
As with face shields, the Philippines would be the only country in the world to require vaccination cards to be displayed at all times if this rule were to be implemented.
According to estimates based on the current pace of the vaccine rollout in the Philippines, less than 18% of Filipinos have completed two doses of Covid-19 vaccines.