COVID-19

DOH slams Gadon over face mask claim: ‘This is not a joking matter’

Sofia Tomacruz
(UPDATED) The Department of Health refutes controversial lawyer Larry Gadon who claimed face masks can't stop the spread of COVID-19

The Department of Health (DOH) slammed controversial lawyer Larry Gadon who recently claimed that wearing face masks outdoors can’t prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Gadon, who was spotted over the weekend wearing a face shield with a surgical mask taped to its front, falsely asserted that face shields alone would suffice. The controversial lawyer had also said  he believed the government has “overreacted” to COVID-19.

Gadon is a pro-Duterte and pro-Marcos lawyer who ran for senator but lost in both the 2016 and 2019 elections. His campaign slogan is, “Hindi tayo bobo.” (We are not stupid.)

Asked to comment on Gadon’s remarks, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire minced no words against Gadon, who she said was spreading the wrong information. 

“This is not a joking matter. People know there are those who dying, getting sick, and that the economy is suffering,” Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino during a briefing on Monday, August 17. 

“These kinds of statements are not helping us at all…. People might follow this and get sick and who will it fall on? Healthcare workers who are really suffering already,” she added in Filipino. 

Why it matters

The DOH continuously reminds the public to observe health standards like wearing a mask, frequently washing hands, and practicing physical distancing to help slow the spread of the virus. Health officials tout these interventions as effective ways of keeping people safe while there was still no cure for COVID-19.

“When you wear a mask, you protect yourself 85% from being infected. When you do physical distancing, it adds more, and when you wear face shield, based on a local study that’s just been released [that goes up to] 99%  prevention,” Vergeire said. 

Vergeire implored Filipinos to follow these measures as the coronavirus continues to spread in the country and appealed to those known in public to spread correct information in combatting the disease. 

“Everyone should understand the implication of saying these things to the public because people might be following them and this is not the right way to go. People will get sick,” she said.

In a separate briefing on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he viewed Gadon’s remarks as the lawyer’s “personal opinion.”

Hindi naman po kasi doktor si Larry Gadon. ‘Yan po’y panyero ko. (It’s because Larry Gadon is not a doctor. He’s my fellow lawyer.) Let that be his personal opinion.” – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.