TESDA tasked to produce 50M reusable face masks

THE Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has been commissioned to produce up to 50 million reusable cloth face masks within the next four months to help protect the public against and curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

A Cabinet cluster has handed over to TESDA the job of churning out the washable face masks that will be distributed to the public for free, according to Aniceto Bertiz III, TESDA deputy director-general for partnerships and linkages.

“We’ve been tasked to mass-produce the face masks based on required quality standards and at a cost of no more than P15 each,” Bertiz, a former ACTS-OFW Coalition Organizations party-list congressman, said.

Once available, the face masks would be turned over to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and then to provincial, city and municipal governments, Bertiz said.

Led by Secretary and Director-General Isidro Lapeña, TESDA on its own has been producing face masks through a home-based livelihood support program for marginal families since March, when commercial supplies of the protective gear first began to dry up.

The agency been providing the face masks for free to returning Filipino migrant workers as well as COVID-19 frontliners such as medical workers, police officers and volunteers, Bertiz said.

“In fact, TESDA’s official website provides a step-by-step video guide on how to make the washable face mask, including a downloadable pattern,” Bertiz, a former member of Congress, pointed out.

To quickly scale up the production of the face masks, Bertiz said TESDA may seek the help its mother agency, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in mobilizing highly labor-intensive small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly in the garments industry.

Malacanañg recently ordered the DILG to enforce the mandatory wearing of face masks by everybody in public, and to apprehend those who fail to comply.

The face mask is meant to trap droplets that are released when the wearer talks, coughs or sneezes. It helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 by individuals who may not be aware that they are already infected.