Duterte admin, Congress prodded to boost Filipino makers of anti-Covid supplies as pandemic lingers


The Duterte administration and Congress were pressed anew to push timely passage of remedial legislation granting tax perks to Filipino manufacturers of anti-Covid medical supplies to create more jobs and ensure adequate supply that are not overpriced.

“As much as we are protecting the welfare of our frontliners, we must not forget our backliners [who makes critical Covid-19 supplies available],” Sen. Francis Pangilinan reminded in a news statement issued on Monday, prodding concerned government agencies to “encourage them to stay the course” noting that “if factories are operating, Filipinos have jobs.”

In filing Senate Bill 1759, he affirmed that the Pandemic Protection Act aims to “give incentives to local manufacturers and producers of some of the products critical amid the pandemic, such as personal protective equipment [PPE], test kits, ventilators, face shields, face masks and other supplies.”

Under his bill, Pangilinan proposed that importation of capital equipment, spare and accessories, raw materials and other needed articles are “exempt from customs duties, value-added tax [VAT], other taxes and fees such as import processing fees and other fees” imposed by the Bureau of Customs, Food and Drug Administration and other agencies.

He added, “It will also exempt local sales of critical products and services from VAT.”

The Pangilinan bill also requires businesses that produce and export critical products or services to supply up to 80 percent of their daily production to government institutions, hospitals, and private establishments for local and domestic use.

Senate Bill 1759 was crafted amid findings that when the pandemic broke out, Pangilinan said, “There was no one in the country manufacturing critical medical supplies.”

“We were forced to import and paid more for the Covid-19 supplies, and this [was] hurting our budget, the people’s money,” the senator said, recalling that Filipino manufacturers, in responding to the needs of the times, “bonded together and repurposed their operations to be able to produce the items.”

Pangilinan pointed out local manufacturers, however, “decried competition with imported medical products, which they said are often being favored by the government, despite the lack of standards and testing.”

Moreover, the senator recalled that in a recent Senate hearing, members of the Coalition of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE and the Confederation of Wearables Exporters of the Philippines also pushed for the passage of the Pandemic Protection Act.

Pangilinan added: the two groups, in a joint statement at the Senate hearing, said, “We are here today, in aid of legislation, and to plead that the Senate act with immediacy on the proposed Pandemic Protection Act pending before both Houses of Congress.”

“Our local manufacturers have heeded the call of the times and produced what we needed to protect ourselves against Covid-19,” the senator noted, adding, “The Duterte government, in turn, must begin to shun imported supplies and buy local. We will get the same if not better quality and at the correct price.”

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