By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Visayan bloc convenor and former Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez urged the national government to utilize global demand for face masks and other medical supplies as an opportunity to provide jobs for those affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
Benitez said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) can launch an online vocational training program for the production of face masks, face shields, biohazard coveralls, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPEs) while Department of Labor and Employment(DOLE) “can provide the seed money for the raw materials and equipment.”
Benitez stressed utilizing the global demand for facemasks and other medical supplies will not only greatly help the frontliners who are constantly at risk of being exposed to the dreaded COVID-19 virus because of the lack of PPEs but also will provide alternative source of income for those workers affected by the Luzon lockdown amid the country’s coronavirus pandemic.
“Isang programang makakatulong din sa ating mga frontliners sa panahong ito, tulad ng pag-gawa ng PPE at Face Mask Making Program. Tiyak na malaking tulong ito sa mga Pilipinong nawalan ng kabuhayan at sa mga frontliners na makikinabang sa produkto,” said Benitez.
He said after the terrifying experience with COVID-19, people around the world are now more conscious about their hygiene and their health.
Benitez believed that even after the pandemic is over, there will be a big market for these face masks, and the Philippines can utilize the situation and “become one of the world’s leading supplier of facemasks.”
“This should sustain the demand for face masks as he predicted that wearing them could even become the new global trend even after the virus has been fully contained, he added.
Benitez said that the government should take the initiative to finance and organize livelihood programs to help the people especially now that many of them are practically dependent on dole-outs as they wait out until the ECQ is lifted by the government.
“Maganda siguro na mabigyan na natin ng pang-matagalan na kabuhayan ang ating mga kababayan at sa tingin ko napakagandang produkto ngayong iyong mga face mask,” he said.
“Pansamantalang pantawid-gutom lang itong ibinibigay ng gobyerno na P5,000 hanggang P8,000 na social amelioration fund,” Benitez added.