(UPDATED) ‘We want to dispel any thinking the manufacturers here cannot supply…. In reality, we can supply locally manufactured PPE to meet the demand,’ says a Filipino maker of personal protective equipment

Philippine manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) urged the government to buy medical-grade masks and coveralls from Filipino companies who produce the prized pandemic items.

The Coalition of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP) – a group of 5 electronics and garment manufacturers with decades of experience – made the appeal in a press briefing on Friday, August 21.

The group, composed of Medtecs International Corporation Ltd, EMS Components Assembly Incorporated, Reliance Producers Cooperative, Luen Thai International Group Philippines Incorporated, and Tacca Industries Pty Ltd, came together during the coronavirus pandemic.

They were among the companies that heeded the call of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to produce PPE badly needed by health workers.

Months into the pandemic, however, CPMP said the government – which has the largest demand for PPE – is still mostly importing these items.

“That is why we repurposed – we heeded the call of Secretary [Ramon] Lopez and understand the need of the country…. At the end of the day, it’s not DTI that buys. It’s the DOH that needs it and they buy presently through the PS-DBM (Procurement Services-Department of Budget and Management),” CPMP president Lawrence de los Santos said.

“That’s where we are having issues,” he added.


Ready to supply

As of August, CPMP said that in a single month, the companies are able to provide 57.6 million pieces of medical grade N95, N88, KN95, and surgical masks, as well as 3 million coveralls and gowns and 1.5 million square meters of medical-grade fabric.

The group said the amount produced could easily be doubled or tripled if needed. They added that they are ready to invest $36 million more and hire 4,000 additional workers to increase their production capacity.

De Los Santos said local manufacturers made it a point to secure the necessary certifications along with the Food and Drug Administration’s approval to ensure they produce safe and medical-grade PPE.