Poor Filipinos to be prioritized as gov't looks for funds for free masks

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President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a task force meeting Monday night, which was aired the following morning.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 21) — President Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos to wear face masks to prevent further spread of COVID-19, promising to find funds to give them away for free, with the poor as priority.

"Kung wala kayo, I will try to buy as many as I can afford kung kaya ko, ibigay namin iyan sa inyo libre but wear it," he said in a taped address which aired on Tuesday.

[Translation: If you don't own a mask, I will try to buy as much as I can afford. We will give it to you for free, but wear it.]

His spokesman said there is no costing yet, but if the budget and all the foreign loans aren't enough to fund it, poor Filipinos will be prioritized.

"Ang sabi nga niya kung hindi mabibigyan ang lahat, then yung mga mahihirap, talagang dapat mabigyan," Harry Roque said in a separate briefing.

[Translation: He said that if we cannot give masks to everyone, we will prioritize the poor families.]

Duterte wants stricter enforcement of quarantine rules, such as wearing of masks and observing physical distancing. He said violators should be detained to "give them a lesson for all time."

READ: FDA warns against use of valved masks

He wore a face mask during his recorded address. In the past, he had conducted meetings with Cabinet officials and spoke to the nation without a mask on.

The President falsely claimed face masks can be reused after disinfecting it with alcohol — even toxic gasoline.

"Maski na gamitin mo siguro iyan ng dalawang beses okay man lang kung i-sprayan mo lang ng alcohol pagkatapos... (Iyong walang Lysol), ibabad mo ng gasolina o diesel, p****** i** COVID na ‘yan. Hindi uubra ‘yan diyan," he said.

[Translation: It's okay if you reuse it as long as you spray alcohol. If you don't have a disinfecting spray, you can disinfect it with gasoline or diesel. The coronavirus will die.]

RELATED: Masks are effective only if you wear them properly. Here's the right (and wrong) way

His tips go against the World Health Organization's protocols. WHO advises against reusing medical and surgical masks, saying these must be thrown into a closed bin to prevent contamination. For cloth masks, it says they should be washed in soap or detergent with hot water.