Romnick Sarmenta will continue wearing face masks in public despite the Palace announcing on Monday that people can now wear them voluntarily in outdoor settings.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles said Executive Order No. 3 “shall take effect immediately.”
Two weeks earlier, the Inter-Agency Task Force recommended the voluntary use of face masks outdoors, which Pres. Bongbong Marcos approved since the Philippines is reportedly only 6 per cent short of achieving the wall of immunity.
However, the order noted that “not fully-vaccinated individuals, senior citizens, and immunocompromised individuals are highly encouraged to wear their masks, and physical distancing will be observed at all times.”
Also, face masks should be worn indoors or outdoors where physical distancing is impossible. Angeles said local governments would be tasked to implement the new order.
The Department of Health (DOH) also supports the optional use of face masks.
“We cannot say that we are looking at the end of the pandemic already as of this time, because the state of endemicity would require that there is high population immunity which we do not have right now,” Health Officer-in-Charge Ma. Rosario Vergeire said in a House budget hearing.
Despite the positive reviews of the order from numerous figures, many do not agree, as well as Sarmenta.
In a tweet, the actor said not wearing a face mask may prove to be dangerous to those with “weaker resistance.”
“So people think that wearing a mask is an inconvenience. But is it more convenient to risk the elderly and those with weaker resistance?” he wrote.
“I wear a mask for others. #keepyourmaskon,” he added.
So people think that wearing a mask is an inconvenience. But is it more convenient to risk the elderly and those with weaker resistance?
I wear a mask for others.#keepyourmaskon
— Romnick Sarmenta (@Relampago1972) September 12, 2022
Health professionals also didn’t like the voluntary use of face masks.
Agree with the proclamation but with regards to facemask voluntary wearing ,I hope more people will opt to still wear them all the time. The pandemic is not yet over
— Jean Noblejas Md 👩⚕️ (@JeanNoblejas) September 14, 2022
parang di ko kayang paniwalaan yang voluntary wearing of facemask na yan lalo kung wala namang abiso ng doh secretary na non-existent pa rin hanggang ngayon
— jileen (@jileencr) September 13, 2022
the fact that the order is "voluntary face mask wearing only in outdoor and uncrowded areas" but the population read it as "voluntary face mask wearing only" speaks to a failure on messaging on the side of govt tbh
— Andrei Narciso (@Narsaysoo) September 13, 2022
The voluntary use of face masks is part of the government’s extension of the state of calamity due to COVID-19, possibly running until December 31, 2022.
“The state of calamity is extended for possibly three months but only for the purpose of preserving the benefits under it such as but not limited to the indemnification, emergency procurement, special risk allowance for healthcare workers,” Angeles said,
Former President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation 929 on March 16, 2020, placing the country in a state of calamity for six months due to the pandemic. Proclamation No.1021 was later issued to extend the validity of the state of calamity for a year from 13 September 2020 to 12 September 2021.
— 👑Anna Felicia (@annafelicia_) September 12, 2022
The third extension was issued through Proclamation No.1218, which will run until September 12, 2022 “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant.”
Infectious diseases expert Dr Rontgene Solante said the order will only promote complacency in the pandemic.
“Dapat hindi natin makikita na [We must not see that] it’s beginning to send complacency towards the pandemic,” he told News Night.
“The other gray area there is that if you are a healthy individual and you’re taking your face mask off, and you’re going back to your household and you have vulnerable people in that household, then that puts them at risk,” he added.