By Genalyn Kabiling
In the wake of intensified precaution against the spread of coronavirus in the country, Malacañang has called on manufacturers of face masks to produce more to meet the growing public demand.
Traders, however, have been warned against hoarding and overpricing the face masks to the detriment of consumers, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
“If there is [an] undersupply of masks, then we would request the manufacturers to produce more. In fact they should not be requested to that. As businessmen, they should,” Panelo said in a phone interview with Palace reporters Friday.
“If there is a need for that. They should produce more…dapat mag manufacture sila ng mas marami, mas may kita sila (They should manufacture more so they can earn more),” he added.
As many people have started wearing masks as a preventive measure, Panelo said traders should refrain from hoarding and excessively raising prices of face masks or else face the full force of the law.
Should retailers take advantage of the surge in demand of face masks, “Then that should be raided by the PNP, if they’re hoarding, that’s unlawful,” he said.
Some stores have reportedly run out of face masks after the Department of Health confirmed the country’s first case of novel coronavirus. Reports showed many customers forming long queues at pharmacies and stores to buy masks.
The World Health Organization has already declared a global health emergency after a new virus in China spread to several countries.
The Philippine government has assured the nation that it has measures to prevent the spread of the virus, such as quarantine and containment procedures. It has appealed to the public to practice good personal hygiene, including regularly washing hands and wearing surgical masks in crowded areas.
“Kahit si Dr. Duque, basta mga crowded places, that’s the time you wear your mask. Tapos kung hindi naman crowded eh. (Even Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, only in crowded places, that’s the time you wear your mask. If it’s not crowded), what is more important I think is you wash your hands regularly,” Panelo said.
Asked if the President will also take health precautions or limit his public engagements over the coronavirus, Panelo said Duterte has not mentioned anything about it.
He added that it was up to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to decide whether Malacañang employees will be required to wear face masks to work.