MANILA, Philippines – Nearly 5,000 shipments of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for frontliners addressing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis have been released from ports by the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Information from the BOC Public Information Office on Friday showed that a total of 4,669 shipments of PPEs have arrived in the country from March 9 until April 2. All of these shipments have already been released.
On April 2 alone, the BOC released 465 shipments of PPEs.
The BOC earlier vowed to expedite the release of PPEs from ports as several hospitals report shortage in the supply of protective equipment that health workers need to prevent infection from COVID-19.
In a statement, the bureau also belied claims that the release of PPEs and other medical supplies was delayed. It said the donated PPEs and other medical supplies are “expeditiously processed and released to recipients by the BOC within the day.”
“The Commissioner [Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero] ordered a specific team that monitors all emergency medical supplies and equipment. We’re expediting their release,” BOC spokesperson and Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip Maronilla also said in an earlier separate statement.
READ: ‘Customs expediting release of medical equipment, PPEs’
The BOC has also recently issued an administrative order that will expedite customs clearance of tax and duty-exempt importations of PPEs and medical supplies. BOC said the Customs Administrative Order 07-2020 provides guidelines for the said importations.
Under the order, BOC said importers of PPEs and medical equipment and supplies for commercial purposes are now exempted from presenting the Certificate of Product Notification or Certificate of Product Registration issued by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) prior to release from the bureau, provided that they present a copy of their License to Operate (LTO) and proof of application for product notification with the FDA.
“However, those importing ventilators, respirators, and their respective accessories for commercial purposes only need to present a copy of their LTO,” added the BOC.
Meanwhile, imported health products for donation to the country which were certified by regulatory agencies or accredited by third party organizations in the originating countries will be automatically cleared.
An FDA clearance will also not be required prior to the release of foreign donations of PPEs ventilators, respirators and their respective accessories which will be used in treating COVID-19 patients, the BOC added.
“Imported goods under Section 4(O) of the RA 11469 which are released under Provisional Goods Declaration are subject to the submission of Tax Exemption Indorsement (TEI) issued by the Department of Finance-Revenue Office (DOF-RO) after 12 April 2020 or upon lifting of the declaration of ECQ, whichever comes earlier,” BOC noted. RA 11469 is the Bayanihan To Heal As One law that gave President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to implement measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Aside from the administrative order, BOC said the Bureau of Internal Revenue also issued Revenue Memorandum Order 10-2020 wherein the Authority to Release Imported Goods is no longer required for importations of PPEs and medical emergency supplies.
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