Palace tells agencies to work together to provide free face masks for poor Filipinos
In this July 15, 2020 photo, members of the MPD Station 3 round up some 37 individuals, including two minors, for violating the citywide curfew and not wearing of face mask ordinances as they spend the night at a basketball court in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

Palace tells agencies to work together to provide free face masks for poor Filipinos

Alexis Romero ( - September 16, 2020 - 7:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has ordered agencies to pool their resources and efforts to produce face masks that can be distributed to the public as part of the effort to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The directive is contained in Memorandum Order No. 49 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Wednesday.

"It is imperative to reinforce non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as minimizing face-to-face interaction, wearing of face masks and face shields, and observing social distancing, to complement our healthcare facilities and support our health workers in containing the further spread of the COVID-19 virus," the order read.

The order covers the trade, health, budget, and social welfare departments, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Presidential Management Staff.

The trade department will lead the production and purchase of face masks. It will consolidate various micro, small, and medium enterprise producers, cooperatives, and community organizations relative to the production of face masks. The agency will also support TESDA in gaining access to production networks and supplier markets for raw materials and finished goods.

The health and trade departments will determine the minimum and most cost-efficient and good quality specifications necessary for the face masks to be effective in protecting against the transmission of the virus.

The budget department's procurement service, meanwhile, will assist in the purchase of procurement masks. The funds for the purchase will be charged against the available released allotments of the health department. The budget department will also provide technical assistance in the downloading and use of funds subject to existing budget and accounting rules.

The trade and budget departments will coordinate with TESDA for the purchase of face masks produced by technical education learners.

The social welfare department, meanwhile, will use its networks and facilities to identify and distribute face masks to intended beneficiaries including recipients of the government's cash transfer program.

The Presidential Management Staff Assistant Secretary for Regional Concerns will lead in monitoring the progress of the face mask distribution.

The government has announced a plan to distribute 20 million free face masks to the poor to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, which has so far infected more than 272,000 people in the Philippines.

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