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By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte has directed all concerned government agencies to coordinate and pool their resources and efforts into the production and distribution of face masks.

In signing Memorandum Order No. (MO) 49 today, Duterte ordered the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Technical Educations and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) to distribute free face masks to citizens.

“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 chief executive said.

MO 49 tasked the DTI to lead the implementing and coordinating agency relative to the production and procurement of face masks.

The DOH and DTI will determine the minimum, most cost-efficient and good quality specifications necessary for the face masks to be effective against the transmission of Covid-19, it also stated.

“The DBM-Procurement Service (PS) shall assist in the procurement of the face masks. The funds required for the said procurement shall be charged against the available released allotments of the DOH. For this purpose, the DBM shall provide technical assistance in the appropriate downloading and utilization of the funds, subject to existing budgeting, accounting and auditing rules and regulations,” according to the document.

“In view of providing livelihood and assistance to the learners of the TESDA, the DTI and DBM-PS shall coordinate with the TESDA for the procurement of face masks produced by said learners, as may be consistent with the prescribed specifications.”

For its part, the DSWD will utilize its networks and facilities to identify priority beneficiaries of the face masks – those who are financially disadvantaged and persons with disability – while the PMS Assistant Secretary for Regional Concerns will monitor the progress of face mask distribution and submit a report thereon to the President.

All other government agencies, including government-owned or -controlled corporations, government financial institutions and state universities and colleges are directed, and local governments are enjoined to cooperate and render full assistance to ensure the prompt and effective implementation of the Order.

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