New role

August 10, 2020

THE Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) deserves the support of the public as it undertakes a gigantic undertaking while the Philippines battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

Headed by Director-General Isidro S. Lapena, TESDA is tasked to produce up to 50 million reusable cloth face masks in four months time to protect the people from the “unseen but killer virus.”

Under Republic Act (RA) No. 7796, which was signed by President Ramos in 1994, TESDA is mandated to manage and supervise technical education and skills development in the country.

But with the current shortage of protective gear as a result of the rising number of COVID-19 cases, there is a need to enlist the help of TESDA in meeting the face mask needs of the people.

This, after Malacanang ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to enforce the mandatory wearing of face masks in public places throughout the country.

The washable cloth face masks will be distributed to the public for free, according to former party-list Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III, now TESDA deputy director-general for partnerships and linkages.

“We have been tasked to mass produce the face masks based on quality standards and at a cost of no more than P15 each,” added Bertiz.

Bertiz said the TESDA-made face masks would be turned over to the DILG, which is under retired military Gen. Eduardo Ano, for distribution to provincial, city and municipal governments.

Since last March, TESDA, on its own, has been producing face masks, which are given free to returning overseas Filipino workers and COVID-19 frontliners, like policemen and medical workers.

Given the urgent need to stop the further spread of the virus, ordering the agency, which is under the Department of Trade and Industry, to mass produce face masks is a move in the right direction.