MANILA – Senator Sonny Angara called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to step up its efforts to provide assistance to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in finding markets to sell their wares during this coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

As a result of the community quarantines imposed across the country, many MSMEs, including those from the indigenous communities are having a difficult time selling their products because the movement of people, as well as access to traditional markets, is restricted.

“In order to continue operating and generating revenues during the community quarantines, entrepreneurs have started shifting to online markets. This is currently where all the action is so if the businesses that were shuttered for the past three months are thinking of resuming operations immediately, online is the way to go,” Angara said.

In his comments on President Duterte’s 12th report to Congress on the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Angara told the DTI to ramp up its efforts to assist MSMEs in tapping the online market as a way to restart their operations.

He cited the case of the community weavers from Batangas who have no one to sell their products to right now because of the restrictions on travel.

Based on a report, the weavers are now considering a shift to selling fish and vegetables once they are able to sell their remaining inventory.

“It would be a shame to lose our cultural heritage due to this pandemic. These are traditions that are worth preserving and I’m certain there will be a strong demand for these products once access to them is made available,” Angara said.

Recognizing that shifting online could be more difficult for some than others, Angara said the DTI should also explore ways to get the products of communities in far flung areas, the IPs and anyone who relies on traditional methods of selling, to market whether it is online or not.

Angara also urged the Department of Agriculture and DTI to ramp up its efforts to make the products of farmers and fisherfolk available online.

A strong advocate of the development and promotion of local industries, Angara, through his “Tatak Pinoy” platform, is constantly finding ways to help grow small businesses through innovation, developing supply chains and access to markets.

Angara lauded the DTI on its plans to boost local products and industries, and launch a national media campaign to encourage Filipinos to “Shop Local. Eat Local. Travel Local. Buy Local.”

He encouraged the DTI to continue building partnerships with e-commerce platforms such as shopinas and Lazada to make “Go Lokal!” products available for orders and delivery.

“This is as good a time as any to introduce these groups and other MSMEs to selling their products online. They should take advantage of this opportunity to tap this market that continues to grow especially now when most Filipinos would rather stay at home than go out,” Angara said.

“We encourage our online shoppers to support small businesses, as well as our local industries by buying Philippine-made products. Everyone needs help during this pandemic and by supporting our local businesses, you also help in saving jobs and reviving the economy,” he added. (ia/PRIB)