June 7 ------ The government is producing half a million reusable face masks for the country’s frontliners in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. President Duterte announced the start of the mass production of the face masks developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in his 10th weekly report to Congress. “The DOST has started the mass production of its re-usable, washable, and re-wearable face masks at the rate of 10,000 masks a week with a goal of 50,000 masks weekly by the end of June,” Duterte said in the report on the government’s coronavirus response.
“The project aims to produce a total of 500,000 masks, half of which will be donated to government frontliners in cooperation with the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases), while the other half will be contributed to the government’s stock inventory of masks,” he said. Last March, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña announced that the DOST’s Philippine Textile Research Institute was working with the Taytay local government unit and the private sector to produce 500,000 face masks that can be used up to 50 times. Dela Peña said the masks will use a textile coating technology for treatment and finishing. The local fiber textiles will be donated by Power Fashion Inc.
In the same report to Congress, the President cited other DOST programs on the coronavirus response. He said DOST recently completed the delivery of 132 specimen collection booths last May 23 to 89 Department of Health-identified hospitals and Centers for Health departments. He said the department has initiated a program to assist overseas Filipino workers or their families start technology-based micro or small enterprises. The project titled “Innovations for Filipinos Working Distantly Program” will be carried out in partnership with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers. He said the DOST has also offered technology assistance to new investors/investments in the new growth areas in support of the Balik Probinsya program. The Expanded Opportunities for Development through the Use of Science and Technology (EXODUS) program is being implemented through DOST regional offices.