The Philippine government has passed Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, in order to facilitate the flow of essential goods as the country is put into a nationwide quarantine, restricting the movement of people.
Under the Law, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Finance (DOF) are tasked to ease the procurement processes for enterprises involved in the manufacturing and importation of healthcare equipment, surgical and laboratory equipment, medicines and reagents, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies critically needed to combat the virus. Both are also granted the authority to provide incentives.
The Bureau of Customs (BoC), under the DOF, has released regulations effective for 3 months after the passage of the Law which exempts importers from taxes on these goods, whether be it for commercial or donation purposes. For manufacturers, the same incentives are also given for the procurement of raw and packaging materials provided that the company is registered with the DTI’s incentive promotion agencies. Other regulatory clearance provisions include:
- Commercial importers of Medical equipment and supplies are exempt from presenting a Certificate of Product Notification (CPN) or Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) unless they show a copy of License to Operate (LTO) and a proof of application for product notification with the FDA. However, the proof of application is not required for importers of ventilators, respirators, and their respective accessories. For donation purposes, however, importers need not have a clearance from the FDA prior release.
Importers or companies not from the Medical sector, who are only using facemasks for company use can directly import without any FDA certification.
- Imported health products for donation that have already been certified by the regulatory agency of the originating country shall automatically be cleared.
The FDA and the Department of Agriculture (DA) for their part, have cut the processing time for import permit applications to only 3 working days. A joint order from the agencies will also prioritize the release of cargoes containing food, medicine, and Medical and basic goods. The BoC will also reduce the clearance processing time for the immediate release of containers.
(Sources: Business World, UNTV, PortCalls Asia)