27 November 2020 via Zoom

Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat!

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) welcomes everyone to the launch of EMPOWER PH, or the Enhanced Manufacturing of Protective Wear and Equipment for COVID-19 Response in the Philippines Project.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our country early this year, the Philippines lacked the medical equipment and supplies urgently needed by our healthcare system. But fueled by the Bayanihan spirit, the government and the private sector collaborated on a repurposing initiative for manufacturing companies to produce surgical masks, coveralls, and ventilators to protect our medical frontliners.

This collaboration gave birth to the current personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing industry and the founding of the Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP). These companies are now providing jobs and employment for our people despite the “New Normal” brought about by the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

Recently, CPMP donated 1M facemasks to the victims of Typhoon Ulysses, and there were also donations in the first few months of the pandemic.

We would also like to point out that DTI’s Shared Service Facility Fabrication Laboratories (SSF FabLabs) have been supporting communities and cooperatives to produce PPEs. As of November 25, they’ve produced 81,619 face shields, 59,026 face masks, 1,872 medical gowns, 3,996 liters of ethyl alcohol, and 253 aerosol boxes, among others.

Likewise, the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP)—the biggest group of textile-garments manufacturers and exporters in the country—heroically rolled out an initial production of 10,000 medical-grade PPE coveralls. These were later donated to the Department of Health (DOH). This group eventually bonded together to form the CPMP to increase local production capacity, from 2 million pieces a month to 60 million pieces a month capacity of medical grade masks, and from zero capacity to 3 million pieces capacity a month of medical grade coveralls. To the communities, cooperatives, CONWEP, and CPMP, the nation thanks you.

While the private sector has bravely responded to address our country’s shortage, we still need to coordinate these actions to ensure that supplies are delivered to hospitals in need at the appropriate time, quantity, and quality. Thus, DTI—in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)—developed EMPOWER PH, a COVID-19 response project.

This innovative venture will provide a collaborative platform between various stakeholders to facilitate and accelerate production and distribution of essential items to meet the increasing demand for PPEs. It will also ensure product quality standards, democratize knowledge and resources, facilitate an effective supply chain, and provide livelihood opportunities.

We would like to highlight the business opportunities the platform would give enterprises affected by the lockdown and shift in demand requirements due to the pandemic. From garments manufacturing factories that will repurpose their operations to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), there is great potential in their use of this platform for future business activities locally and externally. This, in turn, would create more job and employment opportunities for our people.

This initiative is also in line with our Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (i³S), which is aimed at growing the global competitiveness and innovativeness of our industries. DTI has put innovation at the heart of our country’s industrial strategy to address any and all challenges, whether it is a pandemic or Industry 4.0. Through innovations like EMPOWER PH, we are confident that our PPE manufacturing industry will strengthen and flourish in the post-COVID future.

What’s more, this initiative fulfills the government’s thrust to promote GovTech, or government technology, as part of ensuring ease of doing business in the country. With this matchmaking portal enabling businesses to post, find, and connect with others to avail of products and services, these businesses can now sustain themselves, which would save jobs and employment.

In closing, DTI again thanks the PPE manufacturers and suppliers for providing our healthcare workers critical medical equipment and supplies during the pandemic. We would also like to thank UNDP for their assistance in developing this project, which will encourage our PPE manufacturing industry to further develop and expand their capacities.

We hope that all stakeholders here will continue to work with us in growing this industry, which has become essential in improving the country’s healthcare system. Let us continue to be inspired by the Bayanihan spirit and work towards creating a “Better Normal” so that our people will have a better and comfortable quality of life as promised by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat.

Date of Release: 27 November 2020