THE Department of Trade and Industry-Davao Region (DTI-Davao) revealed there is still no existing suggested retail price (SRP) for face shields.
This comes after prices of face shields began to increase amid their rising demand following the directive from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) that requires all passengers and drivers to wear face shields in mass transportation and private vehicles.
DTI-Davao Director Maria Belinda Ambi told SunStar Davao that as of now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the lead agency authorized in regulating the selling and pricing of medical-related items and supplies, has not yet set an SRP for these items.
Ambi said they had been receiving numerous queries and complaints due to the sudden increase of its price following a memorandum requiring everyone traveling via public transport to wear face shields beginning August 15 in all areas where public transport has been permitted.
Although Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio clarified that while the City Government will heed to the DOTr memo, she, however, clarified that face shields in public areas, except for public utility vehicles, will not be required.
Ambi admitted that DTI has no jurisdiction over the imposition or regulation of the SRP for face shields or any health and medical-related items.
She emphasized that DTI's role can only regulate basic and prime commodities, which includes food.
She, however, said they are in close coordination with FDA and other concerned agencies in ensuring that sellers will not take advantage of imposing higher prices as it is currently in demand.
"According to our last coordination [with FDA], wala pa daw update ang head office kay ang last nila nga gi-issue nga SRP was last April, pero (the head office has not issued any update because the last time they issued an SRP was last April, but) it only covers face masks, eye goggles and personal protective equipment (PPE)," Ambi said on Monday, August 10.
The DTI official told FDA officials to continue its price monitoring considering some face shields are made from various materials, which attributes to its price.
Some are made from acetate paper, which is cheaper compared to acrylic.
"Wala pa mi kabalo kung unsa ang standard [price] and classification for a face shield nga mas safe ang user. Kana pa amo i-settle sa ila (We do not know, as of now, the standard price, and what kind of material is safer for users. We still have to settle it)," Ambi said.
While its regulation is still ironed out, DTI reminds consumers to be cautious and vigilant in buying these items online.
She also advised them to only buy items from sellers with business permits to ensure the quality and safety of the buyers.
Zee Brown, an online seller who also sells face shields, saw its huge demand days after it was ordered compulsory in public transport.
Her 1,000 face shield supply, which would usually be sold out in a week, has now been sold out in just a day.
She said most of her customers had panicked since face shields in some pharmacies and other establishments are running out of supply.
She also said some of her customers are complaining of the sudden increase in the price of the face shield. Her selling price is at P43, the least she could offer.
"Nisaka gyud og pinakalit ang price tungod nagsaka pud ang presyo sa akong supplier, same goes with sa face masks dati (The prices had surged as my supplier also increase its price. This scenario is similar with that of face masks before)," Brown said.
Based on SunStar Davao's online surveillance, others are selling it as high as P300.
A certain online post claimed that a face shield's legitimate price is only P11.50 but it was not specified whether the material used is acetate or acrylic.
Brown admitted that the sudden increase isn't justifiable.
"Luoy ang mga katawhan, especially tong dili maka-afford (The public, especially those who cannot afford, are the ones who will be affected by this)," she said.
Brown said she is in favor of imposing SRP and other regulations in the selling of face shields not only for the welfare of the customers but also for sellers, like her.
The Department of Health (DOH) said in a virtual presser that it will examine the main materials used in making face shields to determine a reasonable price for each piece.
According to medical specialists, face shields provide huge protection from contracting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), as droplets from humans might enter the eyes, nose and mouth.
DOH-Davao Region (DOH-Davao) regional epidemiology surveillance unit officer Cleofe Tabada said it will offer "better protection" from the virus.
"Additional protection from the masks are the eyes because the eyes can also get the virus," Tabada said
She said it should still be paired with wearing face masks and the observance of physical distancing.
Tabada added the appropriate face shield must cover the entire face, from the forehead to the chin, so that the droplets carrying the virus cannot get through the face's surface.