Government urged to support locally made PPEs

Marje Pelayo   •   April 28, 2021   •   280

MANILA, Philippines —  The Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP) expressed willingness to provide the much needed employment to Filipinos specifically in the local garment industry.

During a Senate hearing on Wednesday (April 28), the group raised concern regarding a number of factory workers in different sectors who have not received the P5,000 cash aid from the DOLE supposedly provided through the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).

“We are really still trying to solve it. They have this clamor, ‘why are we eased out?’ ‘Why didn’t we get it?’” said CONWEP’s executive director Maria Teresita Jocson-Agoncillo.

“The workers are really nag-iinit every time you talk to them. Going around factories recently, it’s really coming out strong,” she added.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for its part admits running short of funds hence some workers did not receive the cash aid.

Asec. Dominique Rubia-Tutay, Director of the DOLE-Bureau of Local Employment said that in 2020, only about 600,000 workers were able to receive the cash aid out of almost two million applicants for the cash assistance program.

As for the manufacturing sector, only about 111,000 workers from 1,361 companies were given aid by DOLE.

Until now, the agency is still waiting for the additional fund it requested from the national government.

“We prioritized micro, small, medium enterprises po. We also catered po to the large companies pero very limited po,” Asec. Tutay explained.

To help with the current employment problems, CONWEP is calling on the government to support the manufacture of locally-made personal protective equipment (PPEs) — exactly one year since the group heeded the government’s call to produce PPEs for the country.

For now, some garment manufacturers are eyeing to export their products.

“We were subjected to the lowest cost and unfortunately.  Also at the same time, the Philippine market was flooded with very low cost PPEs from China. Some of them are even substandard,” said Rosette Carillo of the Coalition of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP).

In 2020, an estimated 25,000 workers from some of CONWEP’s member companies lost their jobs.

Senator Koko Pimentel is planning to bring up the matter during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Trade. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Baguio City adds wearing of face shield to list of mandatory safety precautions

Marje Pelayo   •   May 10, 2021

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The Baguio City government made the wearing of face shields mandatory in all public areas in the city.

According to Baguio City Public Information Office (PIO)  Chief Aileen Refuerzo, the city’s legislative body has approved on final reading Ordinance No. 49, series of 2021, or the Face Mask, Face Shield Ordinance of 2021.

This amended Ordinance No. 45-2020 or the Face Mask Ordinance of 2020 in the City of Baguio by incorporating the face shield requirement.

According to the ordinance, aside from wearing face masks, the public is now directed to wear face shields as added protection against the deadly viral disease.

“Any person venturing outside the comforts of their respective abodes, or going to public buildings and places shall at all time wear face masks and face shields until the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is completely eliminated in the Philippines or during the State of Public Health Emergency,” the ordinance read.

The amended ordinance now also regulates the indiscriminate disposal of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the city.

The new policy also emphasized that any person is not allowed to make business transactions without a face mask and face shield in public areas such as public markets, supermarkets, groceries, malls, shopping centers, banks, and in any offices of the government.

A “No Face Shield, No Face Mask, No Ride” policy will apply in all public transportation sectors.

The Baguio City PIO also posted on Facebook several exceptions in the implementation of the ordinance.

Posted by Public Information Office – City of Baguio on Sunday, May 9, 2021

 

Penalty for non-compliance in face mask order is P1,000 to P3,000 for first to third offense or cancellation of a business permit as appropriate.

Meanwhile, the penalties for not wearing a face shield and improper disposal of PPEs, discarded face masks, and face shields are P500 for the first offense, P1,000 for the second offense, and P2,000 for the third offense and cancellation of the permit as appropriate.

Procurement Law hinders gov’t purchase of locally made PPEs — DTI

Marje Pelayo   •   April 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) explained why the government couldn’t prefer buying locally-made personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the Laging Handa briefing on Thursday (April 29), Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo responded over concerns from garment manufacturers who claim losing income and competition with imported PPEs.

According to Castelo, the repurposing of businesses was a project that the government requested from local manufacturers since the beginning of the pandemic last year.

“Project natin ‘yan last year, kinonvince natin silang (manufacturers) na mag-repurpose. Iyong mga gumagawa dati ng mga kung ano-anong produkto, nag-convert into producing face masks, face shields, PPEs, at that time during the emergency,” Castelo said.

“Kaya lang, ang hindrance diyan sa bidding process, we have RA 9184, ito ‘yung procurement law natin. It does not specify na preference natin ang domestic production,” the official explained.

Art. X Sec. 34 of RA 9184 provides for the objective and process of post-qualification of bids.

It reads, “Post-qualification is the stage where the bidder with the Lowest Calculated Bid, in the case of Goods and Infrastructure Projects, or the Highest Rated Bid, in the case of Consulting Services, undergoes verification and validation whether he has passed all the requirements and conditions as specified in the Bidding Documents.”

“If the bidder with the Lowest Calculated Bid or Highest Rated Bid passes all the criteria for post-qualification, his Bid shall be considered the ‘Lowest Calculated Responsive Bid,’ in the case of Goods and Infrastructure or the ‘Highest Rated Responsive Bid,’ in the case of Consulting Services,” it added.

“In all cases, the contract shall be awarded only to the bidder with the Lowest Calculated Responsive Bid or Highest Rated Responsive Bid,” it further stated.

During the Senate hearing on Wednesday (April 28), garment manufacturers lamented that after DTI convinced them to repurpose their businesses and respond to the needs for face masks and PPEs, the government still ended up importing said products.

They said that since the government couldn’t support them, they were left with no choice but to export their products.

“We were subjected to the lowest cost and unfortunately, also at the same time, the Philippine market was flooded with very low-cost PPEs from China. Some of them are even substandard,” said Rosette Carillo of the Coalition of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP).

But Castelo said, it is not that the government does not consider the local manufacturers but because of the law that hinders the government to do so.

“Hindi naman sa hindi natin kinonsider sila [local PPE manufacturers], because of the law that we have, sana nai-push natin na sila mismo ay makalaban sa specifications ng imported products na pantay sila or lampas pa,” Castelo said.

She explained that no less than Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez himself made a recommendation on the matter to prioritize domestic purchase especially that the Department has the “Go Lokal, Buy Lokal” Program.

During the Senate hearing, the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP) reported that an estimated 25,000 workers from some of its member companies lost their jobs due to the crisis.

DOH assures sufficient PPE supply across the country

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DOH) has assured that supply of personal protective equipment (PPEs) in the country is sufficient.

The health department said there will be continuous delivery of PPEs across the country amid demand in hospitals due to the rising cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The DOH reported that from March 18-31, it has distributed more than 190,000 supplemental PPE supplies to 13 government hospitals in the National Capital Region (NCR). It also delivered more than half a million supplies distributed among eight Centers for Health Development (CHD) across the country.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said the department has already ordered additional PPEs for distribution to hospitals. The DOH is also currently prioritizing the delivery of PPE supplies to medical facilities and CHDs in high and critical-risk areas to immediately replenish their stocks and provide constant protection to healthcare workers from.

“We cannot let our healthcare workers fight their everyday battle at the forefront without armor. We assure our HCWs that your government is exhausting every effort to protect all of you through both continuous provision of protective equipment and continuous vaccination,” Duque said. AAC

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