Duterte orders production, ‘expedited distribution’ of free face masks

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16) — President Rodrigo Dutrete has tasked six government agencies to ensure the production and “expedited distribution” of face masks to the public.

The memorandum order was issued on Wednesday, almost two months since Duterte promised to give the face masks away for free, with the indigent Filipinos as priority.

“The following agencies shall coordinate and pool their resources and efforts into the production of face masks and their expedited distribution to the public free of charge,” the order read.

These agencies include the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Health (DOH), Department of of Budget and Management, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Presidential Management Staff.

The DTI shall spearhead the process. It shall coordinate with various micro, small and medium enterprises, cooperatives, community organizations, as well as TESDA for the production of face masks, according to the order.

“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,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Budget Department will assist in the purchase, which will be charged against the funds released to DOH.

The Bayanihan to Recover as One Act allots an additional ₱3 billion for the procurement of face masks, personal protective equipment, shoe covers, and face shields for health workers, barangay officials, and low-income households.

TESDA learners shall be tapped to produce the face masks, while the DSWD will identify priority beneficiaries.

The Presidential Management Staff was assigned to monitor the progress and submit a report to the President as Malacañang also enjoined the cooperation of local officials and other government offices.

The government has required the wearing of face masks in public to contain the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than 272,000 people nationwide to date. The novel coronavirus, which causes the disease, is mainly spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

In some public places like malls and public utility vehicles, it is mandatory to wear face shields on top of face masks for additional protection.