(PNA photo by Gil Calinga)

MANILA – The recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on the voluntary use of face masks outdoors is now under President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s thorough scrutiny.

This developed after Marcos met with the officials of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Thursday.

"Kaugnay nito, atin ngayong pinag-aaralan ang rekomendasyon ng IATF ukol sa opsyonal na pagsusuot ng face mask (With regard to this, we are now studying the IATF's recommendation on the optional wearing of face mask)," Marcos said in a statement posted on his official Facebook page.

Marcos said he met with DOH and DILG officials to get updates on the country's fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

He said he was "happy" that the government's intensified vaccination campaign against the coronavirus has helped lower Covid-19 cases.

"Nagagalak tayong malaman na dahil sa ating pinaigting na pagbabakuna ay patuloy ang pagbaba ng bilang ng mga nagpopositibo (We are happy to know that because of our intensified vaccination drive, the number of people getting infected with the coronavirus continues to decline)," he said.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles on Thursday said Filipinos are still required to wear face masks, unless the optional use becomes a policy.

Marcos, Cruz-Angeles said, needs to issue an executive order (EO) to make the use of face masks voluntary.

On Wednesday, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the IATF-EID's proposal to allow optional wearing of face masks only covers low-risk individuals and will apply to low risk settings.

The IATF-EID's recommendation also includes the pilot study on the wearing of face masks indoors in select areas.

The proposed voluntary use of face mask will be done in phases to ensure the population's protection against Covid-19. (PNA)