Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday said the progress of government efforts to boost the local production of personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic must be investigated in the Senate.
She recently filed Senate Resolution No. 506 on the heels of reports that only 10 million out of the 57.6 million PPEs produced monthly by the Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPEs are being procured by the government while the rest are being exported.
Hontiveros questioned the apparent preference of the government to imported PPEs from countries like China despite local manufacturers' capability of producing the same.
"Our COVID-19 response budget can afford to supply more frontliners with more medical-grade equipment if we procure locally. We have the supply, we have the quality, and we have the funds — bakit patuloy pa ang mass importation natin?" she asked in a statement.
"Bakit natin pipiliin ang imported PPEs na may kwestiyonableng kalidad kung kaya naman nating mag-produce ng dekalidad sa halos kaparehong presyo? Hindi praktikal ang mag-import pa, habang padami ng padami ang health workers na nagkakasakit," she added.
Hontiveros said she wants to hear updates on the Bayanihan PPE Project led by the Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, and Board of Investments which was aimed to boost local production of these medical supplies.
Last week, the DOH said it was looking forward to buying more locally-produced PPEs after makers lamented the prioritization of imported ones.
Under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One bill or Bayanihan 2, P3 billion has been earmarked for the procurement of PPEs. Preference for locally-made protective gear was specifically indicated in the bill. — Dona Magsino/RSJ, GMA News