THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is working on implementing local preference for government procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Manufacturers that have repurposed their business to develop PPEs asked the government to source locally made products, instead of favoring imported products.

The five firms that make up the Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP) have been producing face masks and developing medical grade coveralls for health workers dealing with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

DTI in a press release said that it is working with the Health department and the Department of Budget and Management’s procurement service to implement the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, which would give local preference to locally made PPEs.

“[We are] anticipating its passage into law; [and we are] aligning PPE demand requirements, timing of procurement, and flow of production,” DTI said.

The department said that it would fill in value chain gaps and work on attracting investments in support services such as local PPE testing laboratories. DTI added that it would develop an online platform to match supply and demand in real time, including demand from private hospitals.

CPMP has also asked the government for tax breaks, while urging instead to impose the taxes on importers.

The PPE makers said that imported products should also be laboratory-tested by the local Food and Drug Administration.

The firms have a total production capacity of 57 million face masks and three million pieces of coveralls and isolation gowns per month. — Jenina P. Ibañez