By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang has called on the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to expedite the release of personal protective equipment (PPEs) that are still in the ports to satisfy public demand amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said there were PPEs being “detained” at the BOC.
“Now there are accusations that Customs is detaining PPEs, masks, and other necessities to combat the virus. Please identify the Customs in which ports have stockpiled these items. Now,” he said in a tweet.
In his Monday press briefing, a mask-wearing Panelo urged Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero to facilitate the release of the shipment.
“We’re now calling the Commissioner of Customs to release it immediately kung ‘yan lang ang problema (If that’s the problem),” he said.
“Baka meron lang silang requirements na hinihintay pero (Maybe they are just waiting for some requirements but) we will urge him to facilitate the release of these supplies.”
The public has been complaining about the shortage of face masks since the first case of COVID-19 in the Philippines was confirmed in late January this year.
According to Panelo, the Palace has procured face masks for public comsumption.
“’Yung mask alam ko nag-order tayo ng marami noon. The last time I heard may mga dumating (I know we’ve ordered a lot of face masks. The last time I heard some of them arrived already),” he said.
“Marami kasi ring nangangailangan, eh. Pero nag-oorder pa rin tayo (A lot of us need it but we will keep on ordering face masks).”
Panelo also said some pharmaceutical companies have offered to help the government provide Vitamin C to the public.
“May mga pharmaceuticals naman na umaalok at siguro tatanggapin natin lahat ng alok (There are some pharmaceutical companies offering and I think we will accept their offer),” he said.
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