Local tailors, dressmakers tapped to produce more PPEs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 20) — San Miguel Corporation has called on local tailors and dressmakers to help create more personal protective equipment to be used in the government's fight against COVID-19.

SMC president Ramon S. Ang said the worldwide shortage of PPE last year as the pandemic was announced was still fresh in the minds of Filipinos.

"We want to help ensure our medical workers and hospitals can source protective wear locally. At the same time, we're providing much-needed livelihood for our local artisans whose small sewing businesses have also been affected by the pandemic," he said in a statement Sunday.

SMC's packaging unit San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corporation has begun local production and distribution of PPEs for the medical sector, tapping community-based tailors and dressmakers to assemble the protective suits, using medical fabric produced in its woven products facility in Malaysia.

According to SMC, the protective wear will be put together by local tailors based in Pasay City, Quezon City and Imus, Cavite.

Earlier, makers of medical-grade PPEs are asking the government to prioritize locally-produced protective equipment over imported brands. 

In a Senate hearing in April, the Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE, or CPMP, said its five member companies invested $35 million in 2020 to heed the government's call for locally made PPEs, but continued to incur losses up to this year.

They said the local market was "flooded with very low-cost PPEs from China; some of them are even substandard."

Meanwhile, a doctor's group said it has received reports the PPE supply for hospital staff treating COVID-19 patients is dwindling amid the surge in COVID-19 cases. 

National Task Force Deputy Chief Implementer Secretary Vince Dizon, however, has assured the national government will provide public hospitals with necessary supplies, including PPEs.

The Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, whose allocations remain valid until June this year, earmarked ₱3 billion for the purchase of PPEs, face masks, and other protective equipment for medical frontliners.