MANILA — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will fast-track the processing and release of shipments of surgical masks amid the increasing demand amid the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“The Commissioner (Rey Leonardo Guerrero) has ordered for prompt processing and release of face/surgical masks,” Customs spokesperson Vincent Philip Maronilla said in a phone interview Friday.

BOC records show that 210 cartons, 10 boxes, five packages, and 115 pieces of face/surgical masks were released from the bureau since January.

At the Port of Davao, there were 210 cartons and 5 packages of face/surgical masks released in January.

Another 10 boxes and 115 pieces of face/surgical masks were also released on February 12 from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Maronilla added that the shipments mostly came from China.

The items are for commercial use while some are supplies of medical institutions.

The BOC said the improved processing in importations of face/surgical masks is part of the Bureau’s commitment to serve the public interest and provide them with immediate assistance and support.

Also part of its mandate is to facilitate trade, strengthening border protection and collecting revenues.

The Covid-19 has so far killed over 1,000 people worldwide, mostly in China. (PNA)