SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan pushed anew for the passage of a measure that would give tax perks to Filipino manufacturers of Covid-19 medical supplies, stressing this would ensure adequate supply that are not overpriced and create jobs.
“Bukod sa ating mga frontliner, dapat protektahan din ang kapakanan ng mga backliner na gumagawa ng mga kailangang-kailangang Covid-19 supplies (As much as we are protecting the welfare of our frontliners, we must not forget our backliners who makes critical Covid-19 supplies available),” he said.
“Dapat nga sinusuyo pa sila ng pamahalaan para tuloy-tuloy lang ang paggawa. Pag tumatakbo ang mga pagawaan, may trabaho ang mga Pilipino (Government should encourage them to stay the course. If factories are operating, Filipinos have jobs),” he added
Pangilinan is author of Senate Bill 1759 or the Pandemic Protection Act that gives incentives to local manufacturers and producers of some of the products critical amid the pandemic, such as personal protective equipment, test kits, ventilators, face shields, face masks and other supplies.
Under the bill, importation of capital equipment, spare and accessories, raw materials and other needed articles is exempt from customs duties, value added tax (VAT), other taxes and fees such as import processing fees and other fees imposed by the Bureau of Customs, Food and Drug Administration and other relevant agencies.
It will also exempt the local sales of critical products and services from VAT. The bill also requires businesses that produce and export critical products or services to supply up to 80 percent of their daily production to government institutions, hospitals, and private establishments for local and domestic use.
The bill, together with other similar bills from other senators, are still pending at the Senate. Corresponding bills at the House are similarly pending.
When the pandemic broke out, Pangilinan said it was bared that there was no one in the country manufacturing critical medical supplies.
“Napilitan tayong mag-import at magbabyad nang mas malaki para sa mga Covid supplies. At malaki ang kinakain nito sa budget natin, sa pera ng bayan (We were forced to import and paid more for the Covid-19 supplies, and this hurting our budget, the people’s money),” he said.
Responding to the needs of the times, Filipino manufacturers bonded together and repurposed their operations to be able to produce the items.
However, they decried competition with imported medical products, which they said are often being favored by the government despite the lack of standards and testing.
At a recent Senate hearing, members of the Coalition of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE and the Confederation of Wearables Exporters of the Philippines also pushed for the passage of the Pandemic Protection Act.
In a joint statement, the two groups said, “We are here today, in aid of legislation, and to plead that the Senate act with immediacy on the proposed Pandemic Protection Act pending before both Houses of Congress.”
“Tumugon sa tawag ng panahon ang mga local manufacturers natin at gumawa ng mga kailangan para protektahan ang sarili natin laban sa Covid-19. Dapat lokal na at hindi imported ang bilhin. Mas high quality na, tama pa ang presyo (Our local manufacturers have heeded the call of the times and produced what we needed to protect ourselves against Covid-19. The government must begin to shun imported supplies and buy local. We will get the same if not better quality and at the correct price),” Pangilinan said.