Government urged to support locally made PPEs

Marje Pelayo   •   April 28, 2021   •   402

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)

Valte explains ‘overpriced’ PPE procured by Aquino admin

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Former deputy spokesperson of the Aquino administration, Abigail Valte, on Friday (September 3) explained the previous administration’s acquisition of personal protective equipment (PPE) in 2016.

This is amid Presidential Harry Roque Jr.’s statement that the PPE sets procured during the Aquino administration were more expensive despite not having any pandemic and did not go under proper bidding.

In a Facebook post, Valte said that the procurement dated June 23, 2016, underwent proper bidding and the PPE sets are not a regular kind as they also include hazmat suits. The purchase order also included specifications and warranties.

The 3,750 PPE sets that cost P3,864 each included goggles, gloves, plastic shoe covers, coveralls, surgical gloves, N95 face masks, surgical masks, and head caps.

“I heard people are looking for the specs of the PPE sets procured via PO dated June 23, 2016, so here you go. Note that I intentionally cropped the signatories out of Page 3 to avoid exposing their signatures to fraudsters,” she said.

A Senate investigation is currently ongoing for the Duterte administration’s procurement of allegedly overpriced PPE sets. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Roque clarifies remark on price of PPEs bought by PNoy admin

Robie de Guzman   •   September 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday clarified his earlier remarks about the personal protective equipment (PPE) procured by the Aquino administration for health care workers.

Roque said he did not accuse the previous administration of purchasing overpriced PPEs as he only revealed its P3,500 price per piece to put in perspective the overpricing allegation being hurled against the Duterte administration.

“Mga kababayan, bago natin i-conclude na nagkaroon ng pandarambong at nagkaroon ng overpriced, tanungin natin, overpriced ba ang P1,950 gayong nabili ang exact same na PPE na level 4 sa halagang P3,500? Di ko naman po sinasabi na overpriced ang P3,500,” he said during a Palace press briefing.

Roque brought up the amount of PPEs procured by the previous administration to support his earlier stance that the batch purchased by the Department of Budget and Management during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was not overpriced.

He also maintained that he was not trying to divert the issue as alleged by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, a member of the Liberal Party.

“Ang isyu overpricing, natural titingnan natin kung magkano ang exact, same PPE ng nakalipas na administrasyon. Lumalabas, wala naman overpricing: P1,900 ang binili ng pamahalaan ni President Duterte, P3,500 at P3,800 ang binili ng inyong sinuportahan,” he said.

“So focus na lang tayo sa tunay na issue,” he added.

The Senate is currently investigating the contracts entered into by the Duterte administration during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the P8.68 billion awarded to Pharmally.

As to allegations that some of Pharmally’s personnel are fugitives and have questionable background, Roque said the government does not look into the personal lives of the stockholders when buying pandemic supplies.

“Sa batas po, we have a principle. Corporation has separate and distinct personality from the stockholders. Ang nag-bid po yung korporasyon, so hindi naman po kinakailangang busisiin talaga ang personalidad nasa nasa likod korporasyon kasi nga po separate personality yun,” he said.


Quarantine fatigue, possible cause of complacency in following minimum health standards — expert

Maris Federez   •   September 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A health expert believes that the drop in the number of Filipinos observing minimum health protocols, compared to previous months, is due to quarantine fatigue.

In a virtual briefing on Wednesday (Sept.1), Dr. Karl Henson of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) said that aside from the highly transmissible Delta variant, quarantine fatigue is a very likely cause that led to the current surge of coronavirus disease.

“That is very possible po we have been dealing with the pandemic since the beginning of 2020. Pinapa-stay natin ang mga tao sa bahay as much as we can. Yung mga bata nasa bahay lang, yung matatanda rin,” Henson said.

“Hindi po mahirap isipin na pagod na pagod na ang tao sa mga public health measures na ito,” he added.

Henson pointed out, however, that this is not the time to be complacent.

“Kaya, ngayon po na merong surge, I think, now is not the time po na mapapagod tayo. I think kailangan po natin ma-remind ulit ang mga tao na importanteng importante po ang pagsunod sa pagsuot ng proper na PPE (personal protective equipment),” he said.

“Delta variant is very transmissible, mas madali po siyang maipasa kaya kailangan natin mag ingat,” he further noted.

Henson said that the amount of the Delta variant of the virus in the nose of an unvaccinated person is 1,000 times higher than its older versions.

“So kapag hindi properly suot ang face mask at face shield, mas madali talaga pong ipasa ang virus. Now, kung samahan pa po yun ng hindi proper yung physical distancing, hindi madalas maghugas ng kamay, so pwede po talagang kumalat nang mabilis ang virus,” he warned.

He said community transmission starts in the family where members become complacent as they mingle with each other sans facemasks and face shields.

Henson also underscored the importance of wearing face shields aside from having proper ventilation, wearing a mask, handwashing, and maintaining physical distancing in protecting one’s self against COVID-19, especially the Delta variant.

“Yung face shields po is actually an extra layer of protection. Habang wala pa po tayong masiyadong maraming datos, ang thought po ng government and experts is by wearing a face shield, meron kayong extra protection,” he said.

Henson said that studies in other countries show that face shields in addition to face masks is effective in preventing transmission of COVID.

“But it should not be face shield on its own. Kailangan po may facemask. Kasi mas importante po na matakapan ang ilong at ang bibig para po hindi malanghap yung COVID. Yung face shield is extra layer of protection lang po,” he said.

While Henson warned the public against complacency amid the pandemic, he also called on the Department of Health and other experts to review other evidence that comes out in responding to the dreaded respiratory virus.

“Sa DOH at sa mga eksperto, kailangan po sigurong ma-review ulit yung evidence baka po kasi may mga bago nang  datos that might help improve our recommendations para po mas madaling sumunod ang mga tao dito sa mga minimum public health standards na sinasabi natin,” he said.


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