The personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing industry will get a shot in the arm once the Bayanihan 2 bill is passed into law.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has also committed to support the sustainability of the industry by completing the value chain and ensuring a market for their products.

This after the Coalition of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP) assured it can ramp up capacity of their production to meet local demand if only the country’s largest buyer, the Department of Health (DOH) will procure from its members.

The group also questioned the quality of imported PPEs flooding the market due to the absence of a local testing facility.

Secretary Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in a statement on Saturday said the agency is coordinating with the CPMP, the DOH and the Department of Budget and Management-Service Procurement on the implementation of Bayanihan 2— anticipating its signing by the President — as well as on the alignment PPE demand requirements, timing of procurement to the flow of production of local manufacturers.
Bayanihan 2 gives preference to locally-manufactured, internationally-certified PPEs.

“We (at DTI) continue to work with the industry to further strengthen the manufacturing repurposing program that we started to build the country’s PPE ecosystem to lessen dependence on imports of these critical medical products,” Lopez said in his statement.

CPMP was formed by electronics and garments companies which responded to the DTI’s call to repurpose some of their production lines to the manufacture of medical-grade masks and coveralls. It also includes manufacturers of face masks which raised production capacity and prioritized the local market.

Lopez said the DTI will strive to fill in the gaps in the remaining value chain .

He said the DTI will link CPMP with polypropylene resin producers with non-woven medical grade fabric manufacturers to give them a steady supply of raw materials.

The DTI also promised to attract investments in important support services such as local PPE testing laboratories and to develop an online real time platform for matching supply and demand, including from private hospitals.

Bayanihan 2 provides for the liberalization of the grant of incentives for the manufacture or importation of critical or needed equipment or supplies or essential goods , including healthcare equipment and supplies. These incentives include exemption from import duties, taxes and other fees to ensure supply of PPE at competitive prices.

The DTI had pushed for the allocation of at least P10 million for the CPMP president Lawrence delos Santos in a press conference on Friday assured the industry is here for the long term even as members will continue to pursue their existing businesses.

Delos Santos said CPMP will support the planned stockpiling of PPEs not just locally but globally as well.

Perry Ferrer, chief executive officer of EMS Group, said PPE manufacturing is sustainable for many years to come even if this pandemic passes.

Ferrer said the group targets to supply to supply 80 percent of the Philippines’ requirement of medical grade PPEs.

The DOH based on a study needs about 6.1 million gowns and 210 million masks at any given 10- week period.

Over the short-term, CPMP can invest an additional $36 million and hire 4,000 more workers to double and even triple its capacity.

The group’s members have invested a total $35 million and provided 7,500 since repurposing their plants.

They now produce 57.6 million masks and 3 million coveralls per month.

Unfortunately, the group is only able to sell directly to hospitals and independent procurement entities while DOH sources from imports.

“We are not asking for protection but with level playing field, we will survive,” Delos Santos said.