Amid a shortage in supply of face masks following the phreatic eruption of Taal volcano on Sunday, Senator Nancy Binay urged the Department of Health to include the said masks in relief packages to be distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and affected local government units.
Stores in Metro Manila and nearby provinces had reportedly run out of stock of face masks, particularly of the recommended N95 variety, as early as Sunday evening.
“Sana i-prioritize ng DOH ang agarang pamimigay ng masks pati na rin mga gamot para maprotektahan ang mga kababayan natin,” Binay said.
She said that children and those with respiratory and other health conditions should be given priority.
Binay added that government should enlist the help of the private sector in procuring masks as well as other supplies that would protect citizens in affected areas.
The senator, however, blasted the “enterprising” attitude of traders and hoarders that have taken advantage of the situation and exacerbated the lack of supply.
She warned that there are serious repercussions for establishments that are proven to have marked up the prices of goods during the crisis.
The Department of Trade and Industry is keen to act on cases of overpricing and other predatory attitudes, she also said.
“Sana naman huwag natin sinasamantala ang ganitong mga krisis para lang kumita. Sana mas manaig ang pagbabayanihan at pagkawanggawa sa mga ganitong sitwasyon,” added Binay.
The lawmaker lauded private companies that have volunteered their resources to help in evacuation and road clearing efforts, among others.
She expressed confidence that others would follow suit.
Binay also reminded that N95 masks are not the only masks effective against ash fall.
“May mga advisory na ang DOH, bukod sa expert advice ng mga doctor, na maaari rin namang gamitin ang medical at surgical mask, dust mask, o kahit mamasa-masang panyo lang, so there’s no need to panic,” said the lawmaker.
She also asked citizens to stay indoors unless completely necessary, especially as work and class suspensions have been announced.
The senator also encouraged the people to await instructions as to how to get rid of ash in their surroundings.
“Ipunin na lang po muna natin pagkatapos natin maglinis, at huwag gumamit ng tubig dahil baka magdulot ng pagbara sa mga drainage natin,” she said.