PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered local government units (LGUs) across the country to provide free masks to their constituents to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus diseases 2019 (COVID-19).
A welcome development in the government’s elaborately-orchestrated campaign to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the directive gave flesh to the Duterte administration’s pro-poor agenda.
It is public knowledge that many of our countrymen, particularly those living in depressed communities, cannot even afford to buy masks and face shields because of extreme poverty.
“Dahil sa sobrang kahirapan dulot ng pandemya, ‘yong pambili ng maskara at face shield ay ibibili na lang ng isang kilong bigas at itlog,” according to a jobless man with three children to feed.
He described President Duterte’s decree as “timely considering the inability of many Filipinos to earn a living owing to the current acute shortage of employment opportunities in the country.”
The Chief Executive from Mindanao gave the directive to LGUs in a public address delivered Wednesday night as he acknowledged that wearing masks can save people from a “lot of trouble.”
Duterte, a former state prosecutor, expressed hope that local government officials would heed his call, but assured the people that if “ayaw gumastos (ang mga LGU) ay ako ang gagastos.”
Note, however, that some local government officials have been distributing free masks and face shields to their constituents before the tough-talking President issued his latest order.
The use of masks and face shields is one of the government’s health protocols that Filipinos need to follow amid the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to terrorize the world.
For the sake of the poor people, our LGUs would do well to the heed the order of President Duterte.