DTI-7 Director Asteria Caberte said this was based on their daily stock monitoring amid the global outbreak of novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCov ARD) that has killed nearly 400.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
DTI confirms masks have run out
Decemay P. Padilla (The Freeman) - February 4, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — No less than the chief of the Department of Trade and Industry in Central Visayas confirmed yesterday that face mask stocks among the region’s drug stores and department stores have already run out.

DTI-7 Director Asteria Caberte said this was based on their daily stock monitoring amid the global outbreak of novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCov ARD) that has killed nearly 400.

She, however, said that DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez is on top of the situation and is, in fact, hunting for potential suppliers of face masks to help the Department of Health, health workers, and the public in their preventive measures.

Already, Lopez has directed the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), which is under the DTI, to source out masks from outside the country but even foreign suppliers are reportedly unable to cope up with the high demand.

Caberte said a local producer called Med Tech has committed to produce 80,000 masks every day, a welcome development for DTI.

“So this will ease up the observed shortage of masks. That’s our focus now. We’re trying to get the information, and we share this information with DOH,” she said.

“We would like to clarify that this is primarily a DOH concern but we are helping because they are into a lot of things. We understand their position. But we are gathering these information as requested by our head office, and we will forward the info to them to help DOH,” she added.

Face masks have been selling like hotcakes since January 30, when the DOH confirmed the first nCov case in the Philippines.

As to complaints on overpricing of face masks, the DTI-7 director is urging the public to report the same directly to their hotline numbers: 0917-321-5425; 0917-300-5803; and 0917-300-5807.

“What we are doing right now is we issue letters of inquiry (to the supposed violators). In fact, we were talking about a notice of violation already for reports. That’s why we need that report, a validated report to help us,” Caberte said.

Caberte warned that DTI will go after unscrupulous businessmen who will take advantage of the situation.

Under the agency’s radar now are sidewalk stalls that have allegedly sold overpriced surgical masks. The agency has sent a letter to Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella regarding such reports for coordination.

According to DTI, price manipulation carries with it a fine of P5,000 to P2 million and 15 years of jail term while price ceiling violations are subject to a fine of P5,000 to P1 million and 10 years of jail term. (FREEMAN)

DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
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