By John Rey Saavedra and Carlo Lorenciana
Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia. (File photo)
CEBU CITY (Philippines News Agency) – Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has issued an executive order (EO) regulating the sale of medical oxygen tanks in the province to prevent hoarding amid an increase in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
In EO 36 issued on Tuesday night and took effect on Wednesday, Garcia ordered manufacturers and dealers to sell 50-kilogram tanks of medical oxygen only to the hospitals.
The move came after a meeting with manufacturers and dealers of medical oxygen at the provincial capitol to set parameters in the sale of this medical apparatus needed by patients who are suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“Private entities or individuals may buy medical oxygen from the manufacturers and dealers upon presentation of a doctor’s prescription and will be limited only to 20 lbs tanks and up to a maximum of five tanks per entity or individual,” Garcia’s EO read.
During the meeting, Garcia and oxygen traders agreed that a doctor’s prescription is required in purchasing medical oxygen to be used by patients who are on home medication and they are allowed to buy only the portable cylinders weighing 20 lbs.
To ensure the free flow of the commodity’s supply, Garcia said trucks used to haul or transport medical oxygen are exempted from the truck ban implemented in localities within the province.
This policy will be in effect while Cebu province is still under general community quarantine until Aug. 15, she said.
“[D]ue to the said rise in Covid-19, people have been flocking to medical oxygen suppliers to buy oxygen causing the rise in demand for the said commodity,” she noted.
Garcia clarified, however, that she does not intend to impede the acquisition of oxygen especially for those who are undergoing medical treatment at home.
She said she just wants to protect patients and their families from unscrupulous businessmen who are taking advantage of the health crisis.
The governor issued the policy after social media posts showed photos of people scrambling to get supplies of medical oxygen tanks.
However, representatives of oxygen manufacturers and dealers — Mandaue Compressed Gases Corp., Superior Gas and Equipment Co., (Sugeco) Inc. and Line Philippines — who attended the meeting assured Garcia of an adequate supply of the medical commodity.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it is now looking into reports of hoarding of medical oxygen tanks and other essential supplies in Cebu City.
“Makikipag-ugnayan at makikipagtulungan ang PNP sa DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) para silipin ang sinasabing hoarding ng oxygen tanks, lalo na sa Cebu City (The PNP will coordinate with DTI on the alleged hoarding oxygen tanks particular in Cebu City). I have directed the Cebu City Police and the Regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to closely coordinate with the DTI office in the area and look into this report of hoarding,” PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama called on the PNP and the DTI to look into the alleged hoarding of oxygen tanks.
Eleazar said the PNP would also check if there are incidents of hoarding of oxygen tanks and other medical supplies in the National Capital Region and other parts of the country.
“Pati dito sa Metro Manila ay aalamin din natin kung may mga ganitong insidente. Ngayon natin mas kailangan ng sapat na suplay ng oxygen tanks dahil sa tumataas na bilang ng Covid-19 cases dahil na rin sa mas nakahahawang Delta variant (Even here in Metro Manila, we will find out if there are such incidents. We need an adequate supply of oxygen tanks especially now because of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases due to the more infectious Delta variant),” Eleazar said. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)