The Makabayan Bloc wants to investigate the government’s alleged preference in buying imported personal protective equipment (PPEs) over locally made ones amid the country’s fight against the pandemic.
The solons filed House Resolution 1735, urging the House committee on trade and industry to look into the issue on PPEs.
The progressive lawmakers said the PPEs were imported from China.
The importation preference “practically elbowed out local manufacturers that the government had asked to repurpose their factories for the anticipated increase demand for PPE during the pandemic,” it said.
“The local industry could not compete with foreign PPE manufacturers, which are now flooding the domestic with low-cost, albeit some were even reported to be substandard, PPEs from China,” the bloc said.
According to Makabayan, Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines reported that the local garment industry had retrenched more or less 25,400 of its 120,000 workers from June to December 2020 due to an economic crisis.
Makabayan bloc wants probe on gov’t allegedly favoring imported PPEs
The bloc added that some 3,500 of these displaced workers came from three firms that transformed their factories for the local production of PPEs.
In September 2020, Senator Risa Hontiveros showed government contracts on the personal protective equipment (PPEs) purchased from April to May 2020, to support her allegations that those bought from China were overpriced.
The Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM), for its part, defended that the capacity of a supplier to produce PPEs in a short period was a factor at the time.
“Binase natin iyon sa initial capacity kasi tinatanong din namin ilan ba ang kaya mo i-supply, pag nag-bid kami. Puwede tayong mag-award kahit milyon-milyon sa local eh, the question is can they perform? Kasi based din iyan sa capital nila, they have to invest capital,” Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao said.
“Di lang ho ganoong kadali ito. Even if you want to supply, if you don’t have capital, paano ka makaka-supply sa amin? Magka-capital ka niyan,” he added.
But Hontiveros did not accept this explanation.