Photo from Sen. Bong Go

President Rodrigo Duterte merely wanted to assure Bicolanos that the government would help them recover from the damage caused by super typhoon “Rolly,” his spokesman said of photos showing the president not wearing his face mask properly in front of a crowd in Bicol.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque was asked in a media briefing on Tuesday about Duterte’s removal of his face mask as seen in photos provided to the media by Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go.

“Hindi ko po alam kung iyan nga ay intentional o talagang natanggal lang,” Roque said.

He added that it was Duterte who exposed himself to a possible contraction of Covid-19.

“Kung natanggal man iyong mask niya, siyempre po eh iyong danger niyon ay na kay presidente,” he explained.

Last August, Roque said Duterte was being tested regularly for Covid-19 and that the Presidential Security Group had done a good job in making sure that no one comes close to the president.

Roque maintained that Duterte “is as good as anyone of his age.”

“Nakita ninyo naman iyan, siguro naman hindi siya makakapunta sa Guinobatan kung hindi mabuti po ang kalusugan ng ating presidente.”

Duterte and Go met with residents of Guinobatan, Albay on Monday during his aerial inspection of areas ravaged by “Rolly.”

Go said complaints of the residents during their visit prompted Duterte to seek a probe into quarrying operations in the province, which suffered landslides of volcanic ash from Mayon Volcano amid the typhoon’s onslaught.

According to the World Health Organization, face masks should be worn in a way that one’s nose, mouth and chin are covered.

Wearing face masks and face shields are among the government’s minimum health standards to minimize the spread of Covid-19. John Ezekiel J. Hirro