Bong Go

Bong Go welcomes voluntary indoor face mask use

October 27, 2022 People's Journal 332 views

But appeals for strengthened vax efforts amid low booster rates

While welcoming the decision of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to make the wearing of face masks indoors optional, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go reiterated his appeal to the Executive to strengthen further the country’s vaccination efforts, particularly the booster rate which remains as one of the lowest in Southeast Asia.

“As chair of the Senate Committee on Health, the safety of our people remains my primary concern. Katulad ng sinasabi ko noon, ang buhay ng tao, hindi katulad ng isang pelikula, wala itong part 2. A life lost is a life lost forever,” said Go in a statement.

“Given the continuing threats of fast evolving variants of the virus, the vaccine remains our only tool to fully overcome this pandemic,” maintained Go.

As of October 23, only 3,310,032 Filipinos, or 4.24% of the target population, have received their second booster dose, while 20,472,983, or 26.21% of the target population, have received their first booster dose. The Philippine booster rates are considered as one of the lowest in Southeast Asia.

Despite this, Go said he welcomes measures that are geared towards renormalizing life amid the pandemic, such as the announcement on voluntary wearing of masks indoors provided that “clear and specific guidelines are set to still ensure the safety of every Filipino.”

Go then urged the public to remain vigilant and compliant with existing health protocols, noting that “discipline and cooperation are key to the return to normalcy” as the country awaits specific orders and guidelines to be released by the Executive Branch and the Department of Health.

“Hangad nating lahat na bumalik sa normal ang ating buhay. Pero kahit gagawing boluntaryo na ang pagsusuot ng face masks, huwag pa rin tayong magkumpiyansa,” said Go.

“Tulad ng aking apela noon sa ating mga kababayan, kung hindi naman mahirap o sagabal para sa inyo na mag-mask, mag-mask pa rin po tayo dahil dagdag proteksyon ito sa atin laban sa sakit,” he added.

Department of Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco, on Tuesday, said that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will issue an executive order relaxing regulations for foreign tourists and making it optional to wear a mask indoors in the Philippines.

The tourism secretary said that indoor mask use will only be “highly encouraged” for those who have not been vaccinated, as well as for those with preexisting medical conditions and the elderly.

She also noted that the use of mask will still be required in medical settings and public transportation.

Meanwhile, foreign travelers who have not been vaccinated will also be allowed entry if they can show a negative result from an antigen test conducted either 24 hours prior to departure or upon arrival.

According to Frasco, the goal of the changes is to bring the country in line with its Southeast Asian neighbors, which have lifted restrictions for vaccinated travelers.

“Bukod sa sariling pag-iingat, proteksyunan din natin ang ating mga kasamang mahihina ang resistensya, sakitin, hindi pa bakunado, may mga kasama sa bahay na mga immunocompromised, at mga matatanda na mas delikadong mahawahan ng sakit,” reminded Go.

“Hindi natin alam kung sino ang pwedeng makahawa o mahawahan sa ating komunidad o pag-uwi natin sa ating mga sariling bahay,” he added.