City councilor to probe report of N95 face mask shortage in Oro

Jan. 14, 2020

Members of the sales staff of a pharmacy in downtown Cagayan de Oro show to reporters Tuesday a pack of disposable surgical mask, the only stock left in their inventory after a customer bought all their N95 face masks on Monday. City councilor George Goking said he will look into the reported shortage of N95 face masks in the city in light of the Taal Volcano explosion in Luzon. (Jigger J. Jerusalem/

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – N95 face masks have started to run out in the city as demand for this protective gear have spiked in Luzon.

This after the ashfall enveloped parts of Calabarzon and Metro Manila in Lizon after Taal Volcano erupted on Sunday.

City councilor George Goking, who heads the trade and commerce committee, said he will call a meeting with business operators selling face masks to explain why there are no more stocks of N95 masks in major establishments and such as hardware stores and pharmacies, as well as pharmaceutical corporations.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, the N95 face mask is “the most common of the seven types of particulate filtering facepiece respirators.”

The N95 face mask, the United States government agency said, “filters at least 95 percent of airborne particles but is not resistant to oil.”

It has been recommended as respiratory protection against smoke and ash emitted by Taal Volcano.

In an interview Tuesday, Goking said he was able to buy four pieces of N95 masks at P40 each on Monday.

“I realized the four masks are not enough as you have to replace them every two weeks. So I asked my son to buy some more, but every establishment he went to no longer have stock of N95 masks,” he said.

Goking said he wants to be prepared and will not wait until the smoke and ash reach Mindanao before he will buy the protective masks.

“I will not wait until it reaches level 5. My family and I need to protect ourselves now,” he added.

He said his son went to pharmacies and hardware outlets in the city, but was not able to buy any N95 mask. He added this has alarmed him.

“As chairman of trade and commerce, I will call them for a meeting, especially the pharmaceutical associations, and I will let them answer the question why are run out of supply of N95 masks,” Goking said.

During the meeting, Goking said they will also remind these business operators not to overprice or hoard essential items such as medicines or they will face penalties if proven that they are guilty of doing it.

“We cannot allow businesses to deprive people of important commodities such as N95 face masks or medicines in the time that they need them the most,” he added.

He said the meeting will take place this week as soon as the establishments are notified.

At a pharmacy in the city’s business district in Divisoria, a sales staff told reporters the 47 pieces of N95 face masks, sold at P65 each, were all purchased by a single customer as news of the eruption came out Sunday.

Two pharmacies nearby also said they no longer have N95 masks in their stock.

A medical supply store on Velez St. has run out of N95 masks after people began buying them in boxes on Monday (Jan. 13), according to a salesperson.

“We sold 300 pieces, the total number in our inventory, in a matter of hours. Customers told us they will be sending the N95 masks to their relatives in Metro Manila and Luzon,” the salesperson said, adding that they sell N95 mask at P35 apiece. (

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