News - 201020_NWS_N99Medtecs-1

IN PHOTO: Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary and Board of Investments (BOI) Chairman Ramon Lopez (left) receiving the medical masks from Medtecs Chief Financial Officer and Director Wilfrido C. Rodriguez (right).

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been closely monitoring the supply and prices of N-88 surgical mask.

Prices generally remained within the prescribed price range of one peso to 8 pesos per piece, but there were a number of price violations committed, especially by some wholesalers in Bambang Manila. After issuance of Notices of Violations to 18 establishments, cases have now been filed to these stores.

Meanwhile, supply situation has been very tight since the demand last week suddenly increased with the reported spreading of the NCOV cases outside China.

Major drugstores in the country and wholesalers have been running out of stocks and have reordered more stocks to refill their inventories, but these were again depleted fast last week with the surge in demand. They were asked to increase their reordering quantities. As of last Friday, Watsons still had stocks and their inventories were deployed nationwide, while Mercury and SouthStar drugstores and most wholesalers ran out of stocks. They reported that there will be incoming stocks this week.

We have also ordered last Friday the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC), an attached agency of DTI, to start sourcing 5 million masks, to augment the local supply, especially the needs of the Department of Health (DOH) and other health workers.

As of this morning of 2 February, initial information gathered by the PITC revealed that suppliers from other countries also have limited stocks of N88 surgical mask, due to the surge in worldwide demand. Thru are awaiting feedback today from other sources.

Nevertheless, I have personally spoken with the owner of the lone local producer of masks, MedTecs, that is based in Bataan and they committed to supply the government, through the DTI, 100,000 pieces this week and 400,000 pieces per week thereafter. They can commit to supply Philippines around 2 million pieces per month, until this quantity is needed. While they produce on a limited capacity (80,000 pieces per day), MedTecs is now airfreighting more machines to increase their production capacity.

MedTecs, which has been operating in the country for the last 41 years, expressed their continuous commitment to support and prioritize the requirements of the Philippines. MedTecs is the same group that recently donated about 500,000 surgical masks for the victims of the Taal volcano phreatic eruption that were distributed through the Local Government Units.

We have also intensified engagements to match parties with core capabilities that can extend to production of masks — including foreign companies in the country that have the technology, local companies that can readily provide factories and workers, and local producers in garments and sanitary paper or cotton-based products.

The Department continues to intensify its prices and supply monitoring activities to ensure that masks are sold within the price range set by the DOH, and that offenders will be dealt with the fullest extent of the law.

Consumers are enjoined to report to the DTI all retailers and suppliers selling overpriced masks by calling the One-DTI (1-384) Hotline or by sending an email to