President Rodrigo Duterte was only joking when he recommended disinfecting face masks by soaking them in gasoline, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said on Thursday.

“Kayo naman… apat na taon na si Presidente, parang hindi ninyo pa kilala si Presidente. Joke only. Bakit naman tayo maghuhugas ng gasolina ano,” he said in a Palace briefing.

Duterte had encouraged the public to reuse face masks in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.

To disinfect them, he recommended using alcohol, Lysol and gasoline.

“Maski na gamitin mo siguro iyan ng dalawang beses okay man lang kung i-sprayan mo lang ng alcohol pagkatapos. Huwag iyong ini-i-spray mo at isuot mo kaagad. Iyong pagkatapos ng araw, hang it somewhere, i-sprayan mo lang ng Lysol if you can afford it,” the president said.

““Iyong wala, ibabad mo ng gasolina o diesel, p*****g ina Covid na ‘yan. Hindi uubra ‘yan diyan. Totoo. Kung wala kayo — if you want to disinfect, maghanap ka ng gasolina. Ibabad mo lang iyong kamay mo. Layo mo lang kay baka — huwag sa loob ng bahay ninyo,” he added.

Shortly after, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Duterte’s remark was probably only a joke, and urged the public to treat N95 and surgical masks like infectious waste and dispose them after use.

Cloth face masks, on the other hand, should be washed after each use with a bleach solution, as recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. John Ezekiel J. Hirro