Hontiveros seeks Senate inquiry into status of gov't PPE project | Inquirer News
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Hontiveros seeks Senate inquiry into status of gov’t PPE project

/ 09:49 AM August 31, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros is pushing for a Senate inquiry into the status and progress of a government-led effort to boost local production of quality personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.

Hontiveros sought for the inquiry through Senate Resolution No. 506, which she filed following reports that the government had only procured 10 million of the 57.6 million PPEs being produced monthly by the Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPEs (CPMP), as part of the Bayanihan PPE Project.

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She said the supposed lack of preference for local PPE manufacturers in favor of costlier imports from countries like China “is questionable, to say the least.”

“Our COVID-19 response budget can afford to supply more frontliners with more medical-grade equipment if we procure locally. We have the supply, we have the quality, and we have the funds — bakit patuloy pa ang mass importation natin (why is mass importation being continued)?” Hontiveros said in a statement on Monday.

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“Bakit natin pipiliin ang imported PPEs na may kwestiyonableng kalidad kung kaya naman nating mag-produce ng dekalidad sa halos kaparehong presyo? Hindi praktikal ang mag-import pa, habang padami ng padami ang health workers na nagkakasakit,” she added.

(Why are we choosing imported PPEs with questionable quality when we can produce quality ones at almost the same price? It is not practical to import while more and more health workers are getting sick.)

Furthermore, the senator stressed that the government should increase protection for medical frontliners by ramping up its purchase of locally-made, quality PPE sets, which will also help local manufacturers and businesses.

“Hindi kailangang maging martir ng mga health workers natin (There’s no need for health workers to become martyrs). Even six months into this pandemic, ensuring adequate protection for them continues to be a problem,” she said.

“Too many doctors and nurses have died in the line of duty.  We have to better ensure that every health worker in every city or province has access to effective and affordable PPE,” she added.

Earlier, Hontiveros also filed the proposed Pandemic Readiness and Protection Act of 2020, or Senate Bill No. 1796, which requires the government to give preference to qualified local manufacturers for the procurement of PPEs, medicines, and other essential supplies during a pandemic.

“Through such a policy, we can better ensure that our health workers receive the quality protection they deserve, and we can better protect a growing industry that can employ and has employed thousands of Filipino workers in a time of economic uncertainty,” she said.

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Given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, Hontiveros underscored the need to immediately provide more PPE sets for frontliners nationwide.

This, as she pointed out that the Philippines continues to enjoy the “alarming notoriety” of having the highest rate of infections among health workers in Southeast Asia.

“In the face of suffering, Filipinos have always come out as heroes. But so much of that suffering is unnecessary. Huwag nating sayangin ang kabayanihan ng ating mga health workers,” Hontiveros said.

As of August 30, Saturday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country reached 217,396.

Of the number, 157,403 have already recovered while 3,520 have died from the disease.

JE

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