For the country to survive pandemics or epidemics such as the Coronavirus Disease – 2019 (COVID-19) scare, Senator Richard Gordon stressed the need for the government to stockpile on face masks, medical gowns and personal protective equipment (PPE) and other strategic medical supplies.
During the first hearing conducted by the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprise on Senate Bill No. 1347 or the Stockpiling Act of 2019, Gordon stressed that the proposed law aims to ensure that the country will have sufficient stocks of strategic supplies such as face masks, PPE, medical supplies and others when disaster strikes.
“As you know the world is challenged severely right now by the COVID-19. Sports tournaments are being cancelled. China has over 2000 people dead. Ang sekreto dito is the foresight. Stockpiling is a strategic part of our security, of the national interest, that the government look ahead. We have to anticipate so that when something happens, the government can respond. We’re drafting a law para if there are epidemics or pandemics may gamit tayo. Wala tayong panlaban, wala tayong nakaimbak na gamit, magkakaroon na ngayon ng nakahandang ipamigay,” he said.
The bill seeks to amend the charter of the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) to give the agency more authority in carrying out the proposed stockpiling.
Gordon also pointed out that if the country has sufficient supplies in stockpile, there would be no panic buying during emergencies, citing as example the sudden increase in the price of face masks during the height of the Taal eruption and more recently amid the COVID-19 scare.
“Kapag may naka-stockpile tayo hindi mahihirapan ang mga tao, katulad ng face masks – hindi tataas ang presyo, walang magho-hoarding dahil may supply. Disasters will hit you where you least expect it. Dapat malayo pa lang alam na natin ang gagawin natin,” he said, and instructed the concerned agencies to submit a list of supplies that have to be stockpiled.
The senator also pointed out that if there are not enough suppliers, this could pave the way for other manufacturers to open up business here to ensure that there would be sufficient supply.
The next hearing is set for March 3 at 1 pm./Stacy Ang