Opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Wednesday reiterated his proposal to use local PPEs (personal protective equipment) and other coronavirus disease (C0VID-19) -related needs for the country’s overall economic recovery.
“Pagkakataon ang krisis. Crisis is opportunity. Makaka-recover tayo economically, magkakaroon ng trabaho ang marami kung gagamitin natin ang gawa ng sarili nating mga kababayan (We can recover economically, there will be jobs for many workers if we use locally-made products),” Pangilinan said in reaction to reports that 3,500 workers of local PPE manufacturers have been laid off due to lack of demand.
Pangilinan is the author of Senate Bill 1759, or the Pandemic Protection Act.
Filed August 2020, the bill seeks to exempt from taxes importation of needed materials for the production of PPEs to help lower the cost of production.
The bill also seeks to exempt the local sales of COVID-response critical products and services from value-added tax.
“We had hoped this will incentivize the government to support local. We fully support the proposed Senate hearing to look into this matter,” Pangilinan said.
In a Senate hearing last week, members of the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (Conwep) said they had to lay off as much as 3,500 workers in repurposed factories in December 2020.
This is after the Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP) responded to the government’s call in March 2020 to reconfigure their facilities to be able to produce medical-grade PPEs locally.
According to CPMP, local suppliers were not maximized in the government’s comprehensive procurement program when they joined in November to December 2020.
Only 27 percent of the government’s monthly demand for cover-alls and gowns, and 69 percent of the monthly mask capacity were granted to local suppliers and were already delivered in January and February 2021.
Only 660 million pesos worth of PPEs were purchased by the government locally, according to CPMP.
Investments to upgrade local production of PPEs were as much as P1.7 billion, with the industry continuing to incur losses at present.
“We urge the government to reconsider and review its procurement program, Pangilinan said.