Gov’t starts handing out free masks to poor; ‘wear them to save lives‘ – Go

/ 12:43 AM August 13, 2020
Christopher Go

Sen. Christopher Go (Photo from his office)

MANILA, Philippines — The government launched on Wednesday its program to hand out free face masks to the poor at the Ynares Compoun in Antipolo, with Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go taking part in the event online.

“Last month, I urged the government to enforce a stronger mask-wearing policy in the country,” Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said in his message, delivered partly in Filipino, during the initial distribution of 10,000 face masks.


“Filipinos are suffering, and many of them have no money to buy masks,” he added. “I appealed to the concerned government agencies to use its available resources to provide more face masks, especially to the poor. Today, we are launching the free mask distribution program.”

According to Go, the program was created in response to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to strictly enforce the minimum health standards and provide face masks to vulnerable sectors.


These include households with senior citizens, pregnant women, persons with special health conditions, and beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries.

“Through this program, we will make sure that face masks will be given to our poor countrymen and to members of vulnerable sectors,” he said.

Masks can reduce risk of COVID-19 infection

Go urged recipients of the masks to use them.

But he said he understood why some would rather not wear masks, saying: “Of course, they will prioritize buying food instead of masks. They need to get back to work to live. But they can’t work properly because they’re not protected. That’s why they have to be given free masks.”

In his message, Go also thanked the medical frontliners for their service and sacrifices in the fight against the pandemic.

He encouraged Filipinos to show their support for the frontliners by diligently adhering to health and safety measures to contain the further spread of the virus — not only by wearing masks but also by observing physical distancing and proper hygiene by washing hands frequently.

“Our medical frontliners are sacrificing their own lives to save others so in our own way of showing compassion to them, and through our cooperation, we can save their lives as well,” he said.


Citing experts, Go said the proper wearing of the right kind of mask would decrease the risk of catching and spreading the virus by 85 percent. With distancing and the use of face shields, the risk could be reduced by more than 90 percent.

“This is why in the absence of a vaccine, wearing a mask remains a must,” Go stressed.

According to a report released by the Institute of Global Health Innovation of the Imperial College in London,  90 percent of Filipinos would be willing to wear a face mask if advised by the government.

Over 70 percent felt strongly about setting a good example and helping stop the spread of the virus.

However, the study noted that 47 percent of the respondents found it hard to get masks.

Go said the new government initiative would help remedy this. It would also serve as an opportunity to promote locally made face masks, he added.

“By promoting locally made face masks, we can save and create jobs. And by distributing these to those who cannot afford to buy their own, we are able to save and protect lives,” Go said.

“Let us make it a discipline among all Filipinos to wear face masks at all times,” he added,


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