By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine Navy (PN) implemented strict safety protocols as BRP Bacolod City (LC550), a logistics support vessel, started hauling personal protective equipment (PPE) sets that the government had bought from China for its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response, a Navy official said on Thursday night.
BRP Bacolod City arrived at Zhangzhou Harbor on April 25 to pick up 23,385 boxes of PPE sets at the Port of Xiamen, said Lieutenant Commander Maria Christina Roxas, acting director of the Naval public affairs office.
The PPEs were part of the one million sets worth P1.8 billion procured by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the Department of Health (DOH) in March.
“Upon its arrival, it implements strict safety policy by sanitizing all equipment used in hauling cargoes,” Roxas said.
Roxas noted that the vessel employed as little human contact as possible during the loading and reloading of container vans to ensure the health of its personnel onboard while guaranteeing the unhampered movement of cargo in and out of the ship.
Roxas added that regular disinfection in the living spaces of the personnel of BRP Bacolod City were also conducted while they were continuing day-to-day operations aboard the ship.
Moreover, the Chinese contractors hired for cargo movement and represented by Chunshen Company Limited were subjected to strict security clearance and health screening before they could enter the vessel, the Navy official stressed.
At least 33 container vans used as storerooms of the PPEs were unloaded from the ship as supervised by Mr. Paul Shi, a representative from the Philippine Special Envoy to China.
“The container vans were loaded with PPEs at the China Custom’s warehouse where subject items are sealed and stored by the supplier. These container vans are then sealed and stored by the supplier and subsequently loaded back to the vessel,” Roxas said.
Roxas said the undertaking highlighted the crucial part of the Philippine Navy in providing logistical support and assistance to the national government in fighting COVID-19.
The BRP Bacolod City is set to sail back home for the distribution of the PPEs to hospitals, testing laboratories, and quarantine facilities.