Palace spokesman Harry Roque on Thursday shot down Lipa Archbishop Emeritus Ramon Arguelles’ statements discouraging the use of face masks and face shields, saying he should instead encourage people to adhere to the country’s minimum health standards.

Roque told Arguelles to stick to his role in society and refrain from discouraging people to violate the government’s protocols.

“Bishop, sir, I hope we stick to our roles in society. Ang mga bishops po, kinakailangan sa pananampalataya ng tao. Pero napatunayan na po ng siyensiya at ng mga doktor na napaka-epektibo po ng pagsusuot ng face mask para maiwasan po ang Covid,” he said in a Malacañang briefing.

In a homily on Wednesday, Arguelles said the wearing of face masks was unnecessary as long as people loved each other and made good deeds.

“Kung nagtutulungan tayo, nagmamahalan tayo, gumagawa nang mabuti, hindi na kailangan ‘yang mask, hindi na kailangan ‘yang face shield, hindi na kailangan ang distancing. Bakit? Mahal tayo ng Diyos at mahal natin Siya at mahal natin ang isa’t isa. We will only do good,” Arguelles said.

Roque urged Arguelles to use his influence to help people avoid contracting Covid-19.

“Sana po gamitin na lang natin ang impluwensiya natin sa lipunan para tulungan iyong bayan na mabawasan ang kaso ng Covid. Well, i-encourage po natin ang pagsusuot ng face mask kaysa po i-discourage,” he said.

The Department of Health said adhering to distancing and mask and shield-wearing guidelines could provide “99 percent” protection from the coronavirus.

“Kapag ikaw ay nagsuot ng mask you can have about 67 percent protection from being infected. Kapag nagsuot ka ng face shield nadadagdagan pa ng porsiyento para ikaw ay maprotektahan. Pero pag sinamahan mo pa ng physical distancing itong dalawang minimum health standard na ito, tumataas hanggang 99 percent ang proteksyon mo sa virus na ito,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro