24K employees of local PPE maker retrenched last year, industry exec says at Senate probe

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24K employees of local PPE maker retrenched last year, industry exec says at Senate probe
Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP) executive director Rosette Carillo at Blue Ribbon hearing Oct. 28, 2021

More than 24,000 workers of a local personal protective equipment (PPE) maker lost their jobs last year due to a lack of orders, an industry confederation official confirmed Thursday during the Senate Blue Ribbon committee’s hearing into government contracts, including with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, for allegedly overpriced COVID-19 supplies. 

At the hearing, Senator Francis Pangilinan raised the claim by the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (PS-DBM) claim that it procured COVID-19 face masks from Pharmally because there was a lack of supply in the country.

“They [PS-DBM] are all claiming nagkakaubusan ng masks [the mask supply was running out]. We are told that Medtex already had the capacity to produce the masks,” Pangilinan said.

In response, Rosette Carillo, executive director of Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP), said Medtex Corporation, a PPE manufacturing plant in Bataan, had the capacity to produce 39.2 million face masks from March to June.

Pangilinan said this contradicts PS-DBM’s statements that there was a diminishing supply of masks.

“That alone will tell you na it is not true na nagkakaubusan [it’s not true that they were running out of masks],” said Pangilinan.

The senator asked Carillo to confirm if thousands of workers lost their jobs during the period.

“Nawalan po talaga ng trabaho [Did they really lose their jobs]?,” he further asked.

The senator asked Carillo about the retrenching of the thousands of employees and the hiring of 7,450 for repurposed factories.

Carillo said that the company had no choice but to retrench more than 24,000 workers because there were no orders.

“Doon sa number of 24,000, that is referring to the wearable sector; as early as first quarter, naramdaman ng exporters na maraming canceled orders so the idea of the repurposed factories was also to support retention of jobs pero natuloy po yung sa apparel ng pagretrench ng more than 24,000 employees,” she said.

[The number of 24,000 refers to the wearable sector; as early as the first quarter, exporters felt that there will be many canceled orders so the idea of repurposed factories was also to support the retention of jobs, but retrenchment of more than 24,000 employees in the apparel sector proceeded.]

“‘Yung tinarget namin na 7,450 for the repurposed factories, hindi rin po namin namaintain kasi wala nga pong orders,” Carillo added.

[The 7,450 additional workers we targeted for repurposed factories, we were also not able to maintain because there were no orders.]

Reacting to this, Blue Ribbon chair Richard Gordon said, “My heart is very, very torn by all these missed opportunities.”

Pangilinan also expressed his frustration.

“Pinahirapan ang local manufacturers habang naka Lamborghini at Porsche ang trader at importer,” he said, referring to the previous findings of Senate that Pharmally officials acquired luxury vehicles after bagging the COVID-19 supply procurement contracts. 

[Local manufacturers are bearing the brunt while traders and importers have Lamborghini and Porsche.]

“Nakakalungkot at dapat ‘di na maulit yung ganitong sabihin na natin talagang napakatindi na dagok sa ating local manufacturers,” Pangilinan further pointed out.

[This is sad and such an intense blow to our local manufacturers should not happen again.]

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee is investigating the transfer of P42 billion COVID-19 funds from the Department of Health to the PS-DBM.

This includes PS-DBM’s purchase of P8.6 billion worth of COVID-19 supplies from Pharmally, which only had a P625,000 paid-up capital when it entered transactions with the government. — BM, GMA News

This article 24K employees of local PPE maker retrenched last year, industry exec says at Senate probe was originally published in GMA News Online.

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