By Ellson Quismorio
A House leader pitched on Sunday the exemption of face masks, sanitizers, and similar protective goods from import duties and local taxes.
Quezon City 2nd Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo made the suggestion as President Duterte–upon the recommendation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque lll and Sen. Bong Go, who chairs the Senate committee on health–is set to declare a state of public health emergency in connection with the continued spread of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Castelo said exempting face masks and other products like antiseptics from taxes could “assure adequate supply, stabilize prices and avoid hoarding at this time of crisis.”
“Our goal is to make these currently important health products available in the market and enable consumers to buy them at cost,” said the lady solon, who is a vice chairperson of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.
According to her, there is a need to flood the market with these goods” so prices would go down and unscrupulous traders would be discouraged from hoarding them and selling them later at prohibitive prices.”
She said while the measure could create a “pinch” government revenues, “it could bolster public safety, sustain commerce and keep the economy at its feet.”
Castelo bared that she will be formalizing her tax exemption proposal in a bill that she will file this week with the House of Representatives.
Although COVID-19 still has no cure, authorities agree that observing proper hygiene and coughing etiquette is the best way to avoid contracting the deadly disease.
Meanwhile, Castelo urged Duque to be “more straightforward” in informing the public about COVID-19 cases.
She noted that on Friday, the Department of Health secretary said it was “premature” to call the coronavirus infection of a 62-year-old man in San Juan City as a local transmission since it was “only one,” only to be declared as such by the World Health Organization a few hours later.
Duque belatedly admitted on Saturday that it was “localized transmission.” The infected man had no history of travel outside the country.
“We should tell the public the situation exactly as it is to encourage our people to strengthen their defenses against this virus,” Castelo said.
READ MORE: PH reports 1st local COVID-19 case