Frantic search for face masks reaches Mindanao

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 15 Jan) – The frantic search for face masks has reached Mindanao as anxious families scour hardware and medical supply stores to buy for their relatives in Metro Manila and nearby Batangas.

The N95 mask. Image courtesy of 3M.

Supplies of N95 face masks, the most favored item, had run out from the stores in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Davao cities.

Journalist Bobby Timonera of MindaNews said he considered himself lucky after he was able to buy N95 masks from an online store for his children in Manila evening last Sunday, although these have not been delivered yet as of press time.

“We went to a medical supply store here in Iligan but we’re told that a customer bought their supply of 700 pieces of N95 masks moments before we came in,” Timonera said. The search for the same mask in pharmacies proved futile, too, he added.

Councilor George Goking, chair of the trade and commerce committee of the Cagayan de Oro City Council, said pharmacy stores in the city have also reported that their stocks of face masks have ran out.

“One store told us they sold 300 pieces in a matter of hours. Many of their customers told them they will be sending the face masks to Manila, Batangas and nearby provinces,” he said.

Supplies for face masks have run out in Metro Manila and adjoining cities amid complaints that unscrupulous traders are jacking up the prices of these portable respirators.

Balay Mindanaw staff preparing the face masks for shipment. Photo courtesy of Kaloy Manlupig

In Cagayan de Oro, the non-government organization Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc.  sent 3,000 pieces of FFP2 face masks, an alternative to the N95, for distribution in Batangas.

Balay Mindanaw chair Charlito Manlupig said they received a shipment of face masks and other goods from their partner, Disaster Aid.

He said their stocks of the masks were supposed to be used for incoming disasters and thus stored in their warehouse in Barangay Lumbia, this city.

“When we heard the call for face masks, we immediately decided to fill the needs in Batangas,” Manlupig said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)