Sen. Lito Lapid has filed a bill seeking to address the stockpiling problem especially during calamities and disasters.
Lapid filed Senate Bill 1752 mandating the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to establish the National Emergency Stockpile which shall be the central repository and supply reserve of food items, medicines, vaccines, tents, beds, blankets, and other emergency-related articles, facilities,and equipment.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents a cautionary tale on the need for the country to institutionalize a system for the stockpiling of essential goods and materials.
At the start of the pandemic, the country suffered from the looming shortage of medical supplies such as face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE). These problems severely affected the performance and safety of the frontliners.
Worse, five months into this public health emergency, shortages of PPE continue to cripple our healthcare workers, exacerbating the risk of exposure to the disease, Lapid said.
“Responsibilidad ng ating gobyerno na pangalagaan ang kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan lalo sa gitna ng kalamidad at mga emergency, at magagawa lamang iyan kung may sapat tayong supply ng gamot, pagkain at basic commodities. Layunin ng aking isinusulong na panukala na maiwasan na umasa ang ating bansa tuwing may kalamidad, sa supply na magmumula sa ibang bansa na pihadong mahal ang presyo at malamang pa ay hindi rin sapat para tugunan ang ating pangangailangan (The government can only take care of the welfare of our countrymen especially at times of emergencies if we have ample supply of medicines, food, and basic commodities. This measure seeks to avoid our country from being dependent during calamities on other countries whose assistance would not be enough for our countrymen),” Lapid said.
A stockpile is defined as “an accumulation of some desired material created to ensure future supply.”
The goal of stockpiling, on a national scale, is to reduce the country’s vulnerability to unforseeable production and supply-chain disruptions especially during emergencies and disasters.
Once the National Emergency Stockpile is created, it must include in its reserve vaccines, antidotes, other critical medical supplies and essential raw materials, Lapid explained.
The utilization of the stockpile is limited to instances of a declared national or local state of calamity or emergency and with prior approval of the NDRRMC.
The actual locations of the stockpile will also be kept strictly confidential and not be publicly disseminated.
The bill also provides for the monitoring of the quantity, volume, and the dates of expiration and shelf lives of the items and materials included in the stockpile.
The measure also states that to avoid wastage and decay, items that will be near their expiration dates will be donated and transferred to appropriate government agencies and institutions such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DoH), government hospitals and local government units.
If enacted into law, this measure will serve to strengthen the country’s response and emergency management capabilities to any kinds of disasters and calamities.