MANILA – Schools and training centers of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) nationwide have produced a total of 17,866 face masks and distributed them to those at the front lines of government efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

This after TESDA Director General Isidro S. Lapeña issued a memorandum last March 16 encouraging its training institutions that have registered programs in Dressmaking NC II to immediately start producing and distributing the face masks.

“TESDA has decided to do something in view of the reported lack of face masks throughout the country, and amid reports that when available, face masks are being sold at exorbitant prices. So, we are distributing our masks for free to those who are most at risk. In this way, they can continue performing their duties in relative safety,” Lapeña said in a statement.

Most of the masks were given for free to front-liners, hospitals, barangay tanods, health workers, police officers at checkpoints, jails, local government units (LGUs) and other government agencies, members of the media, and jails, as well as TESDA employees and their families.

TESDA 5 (Bicol) produced the most number of masks with 6,542 pieces that have since been distributed to LGUs, Catanduanes Provincial Hospital, Sorsogon City District Jail, rural health centers, and various barangays, among others.

TESDA 3 (Central Luzon) produced 4,058 pieces of face masks that were donated to Region 4-A (Calabarzon) and Malvar National High School.

Others were distributed to the regional and provincial employees.

Meanwhile, TESDA 2 (Cagayan Valley) has produced 3,250 masks and most were donated to the LGUs of Lasam in Cagayan and Kasibu in Nueva Vizcaya.

The regional office is targeting an additional 9,000 masks for donation to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other government hospitals in the region.

Schools and training centers in Region 4-B (Mimaropa) have produced 2,950 and have donated more than 1,000 to the officers manning PNP checkpoints in various towns in Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan.
Others were donated to the LGUs, and barangay health workers.

On the other hand, TESDA – National Capital Region and TESDA 7 (Central Visayas) produced 500 and 391 pieces of face masks, respectively, with the latter donating to the regional office of the Department of Agrarian Reform, as requested.
Region I (Ilocos) donated its 175 face masks to PNP front-liners and barangay safety officers in Lingayen, Pangasinan.

According to Lapeña, the TESDA face masks are made of cotton or any suitable material that is washable and reusable.

“The basic design of these masks follows the specifications of the Department of Health, and will have a slot inside where a ply of tissue can be inserted for proper protection,” he added.

Lapeña noted that those involved in the production of the safety masks, especially the trainees and their trainers, have gladly volunteered their time and skills while strictly observing all precautionary and social distancing measures.

Other regional offices of the agency are mass-producing face masks and shall continue while the demand exists.

“TESDA has the capacity to produce these masks that will help ensure the health and safety of the men and women in the front lines. We will do our part and continue to do so until this pandemic has been defeated,” he said. (PR)