Duterte orders 6 agencies to pool funds for production, distribution of free face masks

President Duterte has ordered six government agencies and offices to pool their resources and efforts into the production of face masks and their swift distribution to the public free of charge.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on August 31, 2020. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Based on Memorandum No. 49 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on September 16, the following agencies are tasked to pool their funds so free face masks can be given to the public as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
2. Department of Health (DOH)
3. Department of Budget and Management (DBM)
4. Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)
5. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
6. Presidential Management Staff (PMS)
In his Memorandum that shall take effect immediately, President Duterte wrote that such a move was needed as the COVID-19 pandemic is "unlike any other calamity or emergency" confronted by the country in recent years.

"It is imperative to reinforce non-pharmaceutical interventions, such 
as minimizing face-to-face interaction, wearing of face masks and face shields, and observing social distancing, to complement our healthcare facilities and support our health workers in containing the further spread of the COVID-19 virus," he said.

"It has already dealt an incomparable blow to the overall health and security of the population and the economy and continues to threaten more lives and livelihoods," he added.

Agencies' tasks

Based on the Memorandum, the DTI is assigned to be the implementing and coordinating agency in the production and procurement of face masks.

The DTI is tasked to consolidate various Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) producers, cooperatives, and community organizations relative to the production of the face masks.

The DTI shall likewise support the TESDA in gaining access to the raw materials and finished production networks and supplier materials and finished goods.

In view of providing livelihood and assistance, it will be the TESDA trainees who will produce the face masks.

The DOH and DTI shall determine the minimum, most cost-efficient and good quality specifications necessary for the face masks to be effective in protecting against the transmission of COVID-19.

The DBM-Procurement Service (PS) will assist in the procurement of the face masks. The funds required for the said procurement shall be charged against the available released allotments of the DOH. The DBM shall assist in the downloading and utilization of the funds, subject to existing rules and regulations.

The DSWD is tasked to identify and distribute the face masks to priority beneficiaries like those financially disadvantaged, persons with disabilities, and partner-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), among others.

The PMS, meanwhile, will monitor the progress of the distribution of face masks.