CHED oks Php 9.7-M to expand MMSU Saranay Against COVID-19 program



The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has approved the Php 9.7 million fund for the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) to expand its Saranay Against COVID-19 program to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Of this amount, Php 7.5 million will be used to expand the production of 70 percent ethyl alcohol, and another Php 2.2 million for the production of personal protective equipment (PPE).

MMSU President Shirley C. Agrupis thanked the CHED for approving the proposal, saying that such effort will surely help the university fulfill its mandate of producing and supplying alcohol and PPE to various agencies and communities to help them contain the spread of the dreaded disease.

The MMSU Saranay Against COVID-19 program aims to reduce the shortage of 70 percent ethyl alcohol in north Luzon, and increase the availability of face masks and laboratory gowns for front-liners in Ilocos Norte.

“The project rests on two driving forces -- the efficiency and productivity of MMSU projects and the healthy collaboration among stakeholders, particularly with the local government units,” Agrupis said.

In the production of ethyl alcohol, the National Bioenergy Research and Innovation Center (NBERIC) of MMSU will upgrade its existing bioethanol facilities in order to produce 6,000 liters of 70 percent Nipahol (alcohol from nipa sap), 4,800 liters of Ilokohol (alcohol from molasses), and 10,000 45-mL bottles of hand sanitizer in a span of three months.

These products will be distributed to various organizations, such as schools, hospitals, banks, churches, local government units (LGUs) and component cities in Ilocos Norte; other provinces in Regions 1, 2, and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); regional offices based in La Union; and COVID-19 center hospitals in northern Luzon.

“These will be distributed to the LGUs in Ilocos Norte through the Office of the Governor Matthew M. Manotoc,” Agrupis said, noting that rationing of alcohol to other agencies in the province will be done on scheduled basis, while rationing to other provinces will be done on pre-request basis.

Meanwhile, the University Garments Project will also increase its production capacity of face masks and laboratory gowns by hiring sewers trained by the MMSU College of Industrial Technology (CIT) and buying additional sewing machines. 

The project is expected to produce 55,000 pieces of face mask for distribution to MMSU students, faculty and staff; barangay task forces and banks in the cities of Batac and Laoag; and health workers in public and private hospitals. It will also produce 150 pieces of laboratory gowns for the front-liners.

The distribution of face masks to the LGUs in the province will likewise be done through the Office of the Governor.

“After accomplishing all these targets, the university will continue to upgrade its garment facilities for the production of PPEs, including its laboratory facilities to produce technical and analytical grade ethyl alcohol for research, laboratory, pharmaceutical, and other advanced application of ethyl alcohol.

Further, the MMSU will also seek certification from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Department of Energy (DOE) so that the university will serve as the agencies’ extended testing laboratory in northern Philippines.

To date, the MMSU has already produced more than 4,300 liters of 70 percent ethyl alcohol, 1,944 face masks, and 25 laboratory gowns.

Launched in March 2020, the Saranay Against COVID-19 program is MMSU’s multi-faceted program in response to the emerging needs of communities in fighting the pandemic. (StratCom)