Metro Manila - The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in partnership with the United Nations The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines, inaugurated the Enhanced Manufacturing of Protective Wear and Equipment for COVID-19 Response in the Philippines (or EMPOWER PH) project, a collaborative online platform that will connect various stakeholders and manufacturers to facilitate and accelerate the production and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the country.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said, “EMPOWER PH ensures business continuity and effective delivery of COVID-19 critical goods and services, which are among DTI’s top priorities during the pandemic."
"The platform also complements the various initiatives of the national government to implement the necessary policies and programs to respond to the crisis, including the Community Face Mask Project and the Manufacturing Repurposing Program,” Sec. Lopez added.
Several months into the pandemic, DTI and UNDP Philippines began working together to establish EMPOWER PH to help PPE manufacturers and suppliers-- as well as buyers and consumers-- to post, find, and connect with the network, and to access relevant information and resources for product quality assurance.
The initiative is in line with the Philippine government’s agenda in managing COVID-19 and with UNDP’s global offer on COVID-19 response. It will also support Micro,
Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that are helping the country in producing COVID-related medical equipment and supplies.
In his message, UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran echoed Sec. Lopez’s message and further highlighted that “while the pandemic has adversely affected the business sector, especially the MSMEs, it has also presented an opportunity for the country to develop a local PPE manufacturing industry that could reduce the country’s reliance on imported PPE, thereby making it better positioned to respond to the next pandemic."
EMPOWER PH addresses the need for protective clothing for both medical-use and non-medical use. The initiative likewise supports the economic recovery of garment factories, MSMEs, social enterprises, and the informal economy.
“We look forward to see businesses in the wearable industry – especially our MSMEs – take advantage of the platform and its features. We are grateful for the partnership with UNDP Philippines and we will continue to work together with our partners and stakeholders to build the local PPE industry and ensure that the country is well prepared for future global crises and pandemics,” said DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba.
Through EMPOWER PH, information and resources on PPE production is made accessible to all. The platform also presents renewed livelihood opportunities to micro, small, and medium enterprises that were badly hit by the pandemic and facilitates the effective movement of the protective wear supply chain.
“Platforms should be frictionless, and EMPOWER PH is by design a work in progress. We ask all — private sector, manufacturers, suppliers and consumers — to join the platform and experience it. As an innovation drive, we at UNDP believe that it has to be democratized,” said UNDP Philippines Deputy Resident Representative Enrico Gaveglia.
With the platform live on the web for all to access, businesses in the wearable industry can participate in the enhanced production of protective wear, whether or not it is their first time. Consumers can browse through a variety of protective wear, from community face masks to personal protective equipment, made by different manufacturers or suppliers.
With personal protective equipment and community face coverings becoming a part of everyday wear, EMPOWER PH provides free and extensive access to all. EMPOWER PH can be accessed at: http://empower.dti.gov.ph/