(file photo)

MANILA – The government is "not favoring" Chinese manufacturers in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), assured Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the National Task Force against Covid-19.

“Noong panahon po na iyon, kahit na ang US, Canada at mga western countries, wala pong makunan ng face masks at PPEs--kumukuha po sila sa China. Hindi po natin fine-favor ang China kasi kung tutuusin po, wala po tayong capacity to produce PPEs at the time (By that time, even the United States, Canada and other western countries don't have resources of face masks and PPEs--they were getting from China. We are not favoring China, in fact, we don't have the capacity to produce PPEs at the time),” Galvez, also the vaccine czar, said in a news release on Thursday.

Galvez said the fast delivery of PPE sets at the start of the pandemic in the country was "crucial" to immediately provide protection to the healthcare workers against the dreaded virus.

Due to overwhelming situations, Galvez said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was requested to augment logistical capabilities to the Department of Health (DOH).

The AFP's C-130 was used to pick up deliveries of PPE sets.

“Bakit natin ginamit ang C130? Kasi po sabi ng supplier, kapag papatay-patay kayo, mawawala 'yung supply, kukunin ng ibang countries, kasi nag-aagawan po ng supply eh. Wala pong lumilipad na eroplano noon kasi naka-lockdown po tayo (Why we used the C130? Because the supplier told us if we will take it slow, we will lose PPE supplies, the other countries will get it because they're already vying for supply and we don't have regular flight since it's lockdown here),” Galvez said.

The PPE sets, he said, were then stored at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

"Wala pong warehouse ang DOH sa pag-iimbak ng mga PPE (The DOH has no warehouse for storage of PPE sets),” he added.

Galvez said the DOH was already "overwhelmed, and most of their personnel were infected with Covid-19 during that time."

The government's decision was based on the "whole-of-government approach" Covid-19 response, he said. (PNA)