CATANDUANES (Apr. 11) — Rep. Joseph Santiago has urged the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to oblige all agencies to comply with a 2004 law mandating the use of office uniforms that contain tropical fabrics derived from locally grown plants.
Santiago complained that up to now, many agencies, including Congress itself, have been remiss in abiding by Republic Act 9242, which requires that all government staff uniforms must have natural yarns from abaca, banana or pineapple.
Santiago’s home province is the country’s top producer of fiber from abaca, a species of banana native to the Philippines. Also called Manila hemp, abaca fiber is sturdiest among non-synthetic threads, and three times stronger than cotton.
Santiago said the CSC and the DBM, which releases the yearly clothing allowances for government workers, should compel every agency to report the extent to which they have complied with RA 9242, or An Act Prescribing the Use of Philippine Tropical Fabrics for the Uniforms of Public Officials and Employees.
The law covers all executives and staff, regardless of tenure, in all government branches and subdivisions, including state-owned and-controlled corporations.
It states that the fibers from local plants, when mixed with polyester or silk, and after testing by the Philippine Textile Research Institute, should have the composition and characteristics that meet the standard requirements for work clothes.
“When Congress passed the law, we envisioned creating the core consumption that would have laid the foundation for a whole new tropical fabrics industry,” Santiago pointed out.
“We foresaw an industry generating up to half a million new jobs, and assuring tens of thousands of small farmers extra gains, and a way out of poverty,” he said.
Santiago said recurring industry demand was supposed to have been spurred by government’s estimated P8 billion annual spending for office uniforms.
“However, up to now, we still have many agencies that have been negligent in measuring up to the law. Thus, the desired positive economic impact has not been met,” he said.
“Instead, we have agencies still using whatever garments they want for uniforms. Worse, some of the textiles they are using may have been smuggled into the country from China and elsewhere,” Santiago added.
Every year, agencies spend P4,000 per capita for the clothing allowances of more than two million personnel, including those in local governments.
After Catanduanes, the other leading producers of abaca fiber are Southern Leyte, Leyte, Davao Oriental, Northern Samar, Davao del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Samar, Sulu and Sorsogon.