THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) has processed 189 shipments of medical supplies and other emergency items needed for responses against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as of Thursday.

In a statement released on Friday, the Department of Finance (DoF) said the shipments include “surgical masks, dust masks, pharmaceuticals, reagent kits, goggles, gloves, disposable particulate respirators, digital thermometers, infrared thermometers and fire protection cloth,” which entered the country via the Port of Clark, the Manila International Container Port (MICP), and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)

“More supplies for frontline workers are expected to arrive in the Philippines over the next few weeks,” the DoF said.

Citing a report from the BoC, the DoF said the bureau will establish a “one-stop shop” for donations and other relief goods coming into the country via its ports to accelerate the processing.

“As part of the bureau’s action plan, all of the ports were directed to ensure the continuous and unhampered delivery of goods and services, especially shipments that are needed to address this emergency such as face masks, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies,” Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero was quoted as saying.

Mr. Guerrero said ports in Luzon, which has been under “enhanced community quarantine” since Monday, are operating with a skeletal workforce as ordered but assured that shipments of medical and emergency supplies will still be processed and released at an accelerated pace.

“Rest assured that the Bureau of Customs is doing all that is necessary in order to bring these needed medical and emergency supplies to our people and that the entire bureau will continue to provide service to the nation throughout this challenging time,” he added.

Based on reports from Mr. Guerrero, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said a team was on standby at the subport of Mariveles in Bataan yesterday afternoon for the shipment of a donation of one million surgical masks to the Department of Health.

Mr. Dominguez said the officials issued an absolute “do not delay and maximum accommodation” order for the shipment and had requested for its escort so these can be delivered to their locations as soon as possible.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte placed the entire island of Luzon under “enhanced community quarantine” until April 12 as a measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease that has sickened 217 and killed 17 people in the country, as of Thursday. — Beatrice M. Laforga