BOC cuts paperwork for shipments of PPEs, medical supplies for speedy release amid COVID-19 outbreak

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 01 2020 02:09 PM

Hospital frontliners wear personal protective equipment as they man the entrance of the emergency room in the Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center in Tondo, Manila on March 24, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday said it would exempt shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies from documentary requirements to expedite their release amid demand as the country battles the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Under Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 07-2020, the agency said it would exempt importers of PPEs and medical equipment from presenting documents such as the Certificate of Product Notification (CPN) or Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). 

"The aim of this CAO is to expedite customs clearance of tax and duty-exempt importations of PPEs and medical goods which are urgently needed by the country’s citizens, frontliners, and medical supplies manufacturers in this public health emergency we are currently facing," the BOC said in a statement. 

It said the order also complies with the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which stresses the need to urgently import protective gear for medical workers and patients. 

The lack of personal protective equipment in hospitals for frontliners and patients alike has pushed many facilities from both the public and private sectors to start fundraisers to purchase PPEs amid the rise of COVID-19 infections in the country, which have risen to 2,084 cases as of Tuesday afternoon. 

Other private groups have also taken initiative to make improvised protective equipment, including face masks and shields. 

Suppliers of imported PPEs and medical supplies will only have to submit a copy of their license to operate and proof of application for product notification with the FDA to have their shipments cleared, the BOC said. 

Importers of ventilators, respirators, and necessary accessories will only have to present a copy of their license to operate. Health products donated by certified agencies or third-party organizations "shall be automatically cleared" according to Customs. 

Foreign donations of PPEs, respirators, and the needed accessories used to treat COVID-19 patients will not require FDA clearance, it added. 

Under Section 4(O) of the Bayanihan law, the government is ordered to "liberalize the grant of incentives” in manufacturing equipment vital to COVID-19 treatment, provided that they are “exempt from import duties, taxes, and other fees."