The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday assured the speedy release of the shipments containing medical supplies and relief goods amid the government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus diseases 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.
“The Bureau assures the public that the processing of shipments containing medical supplies and relief goods are being done expeditiously especially during this time of emergency,” the BOC said in a statement.
The BOC made this assurance as it denied reports that the bureau is holding and delaying the release of essential medical supplies and equipment in its warehouses.
“In the midst of issues that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is holding and delaying the release of essential medical supplies and equipment in its warehouses, the BOC clarifies that there is no such incident at any of its ports or warehouses,” the statement read.
The Bureau said it has activated its Assistance Desk to expedite the clearance and immediate release of the important shipments.
It also enjoined its stakeholders/importers to provide detailed advance information of importations of emergency medical supplies “so that they can be expeditiously processed.”
The BOC also reminded importers to secure the needed importation permits and clearances required by regulatory agencies prior to importation.
The BOC Assistance Desk may be reached through mobile numbers 09672256871 and/or 09178322954.
The public is also advised to visit the BOC website at customs.gov.ph for details on foreign donation procedures.
Release personal protective equipment
Meanwhile, Malacañang on Monday urged BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to release the personal protective equipment (PPE) stored at the BOC’S warehouse.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this call after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. suggested that medical workers at the Philippine General Hospital (PSG) could use the PPEs in the warehouse since it is a government hospital.
“We are now calling the Commissioner of Customs to release it immediately kung ‘yan lang ang problema (if that is the only problem). Baka meron lang requirements silang inaantay (Maybe they are waiting for some requirements) but we will urge him to facilitate the release of these supplies,” he said in a Palace briefing.
He also assured that the government has ordered a new batch of face masks for both health workers and armed personnel following criticism that they were not wearing any mask at checkpoints.
“Alam ko nag-order na tayo nang marami noon pero nag-o-order pa rin tayo (I know we have alreay ordered them before but we continue to order),” he said.
He admitted that there was a “delay” in acquiring PPEs for armed personnel but guaranteed that they will be using them once they receive them.
“If you notice, kahapon halos wala eh. Pero ngayon, mayroon na akong mga nakitang naka-maskara, naka-gloves. (yesterday, there were almost none. But now we I can see some wearing masks, gloves). So lahat sila (all of them) will be wearing that as soon as the supply arrives,” he said.
Last Saturday, state-owned PGH asked for donations of both surgical and N95 masks, 70 percent alcohol, face shields, and surgical gowns for its health workers.
The student council of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine also sought for health supply donations for its PGH interns on duty.
As of Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 140 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country with 12 deaths.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon under “enhanced community quarantine” which requires “strict” home quarantine in all households, suspends transportation, regulates food and essential health services, and heightens uniformed personnel’s presence to enforce quarantine procedures.
In an interview on ANC, Panelo said an enhanced community quarantine refers to “total lockdown.” He, however, assured that food and essential needs will be delivered in homes care of the respective local government units (LGUs). (PNA)