‘Customs expediting release of medical equipment, PPEs’
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday said it is fast-tracking the release of imported medical equipment and supplies from the country’s ports, except those without the necessary permits.
“The Commissioner [Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero] ordered a specific team that monitor all emergency medical supplies and equipment. We’re expediting their release,” BOC spokesperson and Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip C. Maronilla said.
As such, medical supplies such as face/surgical masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) were being released and not stored at warehouses, Maronilla said.
But if there are a few medical equipment still pending release, these are without the necessary permits from regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“We will not compromise safety. We will not release if they don’t have permits,” Maronilla said.
Last Friday, Guerrero clarified to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III that “there are no pending shipments of face masks in any of our ports, according to my district collectors” as the BOC had been “expediting the processing of shipments of face masks and other emergency supplies/goods.”
On Sunday night, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin tweeted: “If PGH and other frontline medical personnel are looking for PPEs, they are in Customs warehouse, tons of them. Go get them there. PGH is an arm of government and entitled to take them,” referring to the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.
Locsin’s tweet prompted a reply from former Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa, who claimed that PGH’s supplier of surgical masks “can’t deliver because they’re stuck at Customs.”
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