Vice President Leni Robredo urged the government on Wednesday, July 15, to limit importing personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other medical supplies and support local tailors and producers instead.
“Matagal ko na itong panawagan—na ’yong mga hindi kailangang i-import, huwag muna nating i-import. […] Kaya kami nag-decide na mag-local production na ng PPE sets kasi import tayo nang import sa China and kaya naman natin gawin,” said Robredo in an interview with dyRC Aksyon Radyo Cebu.
According to Robredo, the PPE shortage could have been quickly resolved if only the government tapped local producers. “Panahon ito na ’yong talagang dapat i-boost natin ’yong local. Mag-iimport lang tayo ng very essential goods na talagang wala dito sa atin,” she added.
Senators Grace Poe and Panfilo Lacson also flagged some issues with supplies imported from China. Poe said that around one million of imported PPEs were “overpriced.” Lacson, on the other hand, pointed out that even other medical products like nucleic acid extractor and swabbing system for PCR-based tests were “grossly overpriced.”
The Office of the Vice President (OVP) has been supportive of the local textile industry. In April, Robredo and her team partnered with a local fashion designer Mich Dulce and community sewers to produce and distribute PPEs across the country.
So far, the government has already imported Php 1.8 billion worth of PPEs from China while over 20,000 workers in the local textile and tailoring industry were retrenched due to the pandemic.
Header photo courtesy of VP Leni Robredo Facebook group
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Writer: KLEO CATIENZA