The investigation conducted by the City Council’s committee on trade found no evidence of hoarding of medical face masks, amid the threat of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
Councilor Nilo Abellera, the chair of the committee on trade, commerce, and industry, reported during the regular session on Tuesday that they could not corroborate the allegations of hoarding by suppliers and distributors to jack up the price.
This was the result of the Feb. 19 committee hearing with pharmaceutical companies and other stakeholders to discuss the matter.
During the committee hearing, all of them said that the combination of the fears about the virus and the eruption of the Taal volcano triggered the scarcity of supply.
“Their products were bought by relatives of those victims of the Taal eruption,” he said.
He also said that the demands went higher during the outbreak of the COVID-19 that started in January this year.
“When the coronavirus outbreak started last January this year, their supplies were already depleted due to the Taal eruption. The suppliers of these companies were also unsure when the stocks will replenish,” he said.
Czar Raul Bulaclac, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) representative, said that they already conducted several inspections, together with the Food and Drug Administration, regarding the report. Instead of hoarding, however, they confirmed that there was, indeed, “no stocks from local pharmacies.”
Bulaclac further clarified that the depletion of surgical masks was primarily due to the Taal volcano incident. He also said that during their region-wide inspection, they found out that other provinces have been purchasing masks from the city.
FDA-Davao head Deborah Legaspi also said that the DOH already implemented a price freeze on the emergency medical supplies. The agencies monitored the prices through the electronic essential drug prices. It was bared that from their monitoring, the N95 masks range from P46 to P105, while the surgical masks were sold from P1.10 to P8.
The DTI and FDA also confirmed that there was no hoarding of medical masks in the city.
The investigation conducted by the committee was in line with councilor Pamela-Librado Morata’s resolution on Feb. 4, requesting at least 100 pharmaceutical and medical companies in the city to answer allegations of hoarding in the city.
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