SEN. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Monday called for stricter mask-wearing policy to protect the public and curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

He identified three ways to fully implement the policy — bayanihan or community spirit, support for the people’s livelihood, and caring for the poor and the most in need.

Go appealed to the executive department to ensure collaboration between the public and private sectors to implement a stronger policy on the wearing of masks, and that necessary support is given for local industries producing masks.

He reiterated his appeal to the government to provide masks to the poor and vulnerable sectors who cannot afford to buy their own.

He also urged government to establish guidelines for the seamless production and distribution of masks.

“We should help local industries that produce these items and enhance their livelihood. Wearing masks can save lives while buying locally made masks can save jobs,” the senator said.

He also emphasized the need to be more proactive in implementing a stronger mask wearing policy by understanding and showing compassion to the needs and limitations of the poor.

Go said the poor is burdened by the impact of the pandemic on their livelihood.

Hence, the government should provide additional support for them in order to balance the need to jumpstart the economy while still protecting the health of its citizens.

To enhance government efforts, Go suggested outlining the duties of concerned agencies relative to the production and distribution of free masks nationwide.

He suggested that the Department of Trade and Industry could lead the efforts for the production and procurement of the masks, while the Department of Health and Department of Science and Technology could help determine the quality specifications needed to locally produce the proper masks.

In addition, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority should help train more workers in producing masks, while the Department of Social Welfare and Development should be tasked to distribute the face masks to priority beneficiaries, he said.

The senator urged government to establish linkages with local suppliers of raw materials and manufacturers of critical medical equipment and personal protective equipment. He further recommended agencies concerned with business creation and employment programs to provide the necessary resources and skills training in order to boost production of locally made masks.

Despite some experts saying that the country’s efforts are leading to “flattening of the curve”, Go renewed his call to the general public to remain vigilant, cooperate with authorities, comply with health protocols and continue to show compassion to each other.

Citing medical experts, he said wearing the right kind of mask alone can decrease the risk of catching and spreading the virus by 85 percent.

With social distancing and the use of face shields, the risk could be reduced by more than 90 percent.