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The Philippines’ President Duterte is known for making some controversial remarks that tend to hang in the air for years. His recent rant relates to the cleaning of face masks; wearing them in public has been mandatory throughout the country since April.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said that he was not joking about using gasoline as a disinfectant for protective masks in the absence of other cleaning agents, a statement he uttered last week, according to Reuters. Many did not take the president’s words as a legitimate suggestion at that time, especially after his spokesman Harry Roque explained during a press conference last week that Duterte’s words were just a joke. But the president has since clarified that his advice should actually be taken seriously.
“For those of you who don’t really understand, I’m not joking, that’s true, you thought I was just joking but in fact I am not joking,” Duterte said in Filipino during a televised address that was aired on PTV4 on Friday.
“Just go to the gasoline station, and then have some drops, that’s disinfectant”, the president said, according to Reuters translation.
REUTERS / Lean Daval Jr
President Rodrigo Duterte speaks after his arrival, from a visit in Israel and Jordan at Davao International airport in Davao City in southern Philippines, September 8, 2018
The President of the Philippine Medical Association, Jose Santiago, however, doubted Duterte’s statement, later clarifying to Reuters that using gasoline as a disinfectant for protective masks was not recommended as “inhaling it may cause harm and could lead to more problems like respiratory disease.”
Wearing face masks in public places has been made mandatory in Philippines since April, as the country of 106 million has recorded more than 90,000 cases of coronavirus and 2,000 deaths so far.
Sputnik / Sergey Guneev
Last week, President Duterte said that not fearing personal protective equipment in public can be considered a “serious crime”, while recognising that not everyone can actually afford one. He then suggested that disposable masks can be worn twice and treated with alcohol or Lysol to clean them. It was that time the president mentioned using gasoline or diesel for disinfection purposes against “that son of a b**** COVID” – the statement many did not take seriously at that time.