The Senate Committee on Economic Affairs on Thursday sought to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign-made medical supplies by boosting the local production of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and other frontliners.
Sen. Imee R. Marcos, committee chairwoman, said she has filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1708 or the “Healthcare Manufacturing and Pandemic Protection Act” to exempt local manufacturers from certain taxes and continue applying export incentives even on their output for domestic consumption.
“We need to guarantee that our health workers and frontliners have the medical supplies they require. Shortages of PPEs and other requisites caused infections resulting in the inexcusably high death toll among doctors, nurses, and other frontliners,” Marcos said.
“At the onset of the pandemic, we were unable to procure supplies from China, Singapore, Japan, and Korea, themselves struggling against the virus. We could not bid against the US and Europe who were understandably paying top dollar for the same short supplies,” she explained.
“Clearly what we need to do is to finally establish health security or, at the very least, PPE security, by producing these supplies locally, initiating the stockpiling of their raw materials and encouraging repurposing and innovation among willing Filipino manufacturers,” she added.
Local manufacturers need not pay import duties on raw materials and equipment, Value-Added Taxes VAT), and other fees collected by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Marcos bill.
Incentives will also be maintained for export manufacturers even if most of the medical supplies they produce will go to the Department of Health and private local hospitals.
“Waiving export requirements during a crisis and crediting output for local needs will allow a major industry like the garments industry to preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs and even to expand,” Marcos said.