Philippines: President insist citizens must disinfect face masks with petrol


Philippines’ president Rodrigo Duterte has once again told people to disinfect their face masks with petrol – insisting he was “not joking”.

He had made similar remarks last week – but officials were quick to correct him, and suggested it was a joke.

Health officials also said cloths masks should be washed normally, and surgical masks replaced after use.

But on Friday, the president doubled down – saying “what I’ve said was true… go to a gasoline station”.

There is no evidence that gasoline can disinfect masks; having prolonged contact with it can be harmful; and pouring flammable liquids can be a fire risk.

Referring to his earlier comments, Mr Duterte said: “They [critics] said, ‘Duterte’s insane.’ Stupid! If I’m insane, you should be the president, not me.

“What I’ve said was true. If alcohol isn’t available, especially for the poor, just go to a gasoline station, and use [gas] to disinfect.

“I am not joking. I am not joking. You… you try to get inside my brain.”

Mr Duterte said those who didn’t have cleaning supplies could use gasoline as a disinfectant to clean their masks.

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“At the end of the day, hang [the mask] somewhere and spray it with Lysol if you can afford it,” he said, referencing a popular disinfectant brand.

“For people who don’t [have Lysol], drench it in gasoline or diesel… just find some gasoline [and] dip your hand [with the mask] in it.”

After last week’s comments, presidential spokesman Harry Roque quickly corrected him.

“I can’t believe that after four years of him as president, you still don’t know [him],” said Mr Roque, according to news site Rappler.

“[It’s only a] joke. Why would we use gasoline for washing?”

Meanwhile, health official Maria Rosario Vergeire said cloth masks should be washed and dried normally, and surgical masks replaced after use.