PEZA appeals for consistency of National Gov’t, LGUs’ directives on the unhampered passage of manufacturing, IT/BPOs, and export cargoes and workers in checkpoints

22 March 2020 (Sunday)

Taguig City – Almost one week since the quarantine began in the country, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), led by Directory General Charito “Ching” Plaza, has called for consistency in the implementation of “unhampered passage of manufacturing, IT/BPOs, and export cargoes and workers in checkpoints,” which had been approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

As the enhanced community quarantine pronouncement of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last March 17 seeks to limit the movement of people, the IATF clarified that certain considerations will be made to ensure the unhampered passage of crucial commodities and the people delivering them. “This came about as well through our unrelenting efforts to coordinate with authorities,” said Plaza.

In response to concerns brought by PEZA for its thousands of locator companies, Secretary Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) signed the DTI Memorandum Circular No. 20-08 which stresses the importance of “ensuring the unhampered movement of cargo and transit of personnel of the business establishments that are allowed to operate during the enhanced community quarantine of Luzon”. Dated March 20, 2020, Memorandum Circular No. 20-08 amends in effect the previous Memorandum Circular No. 20-06 series of 2020.

In the said Memorandum, Trade Secretary Lopez said that “Pursuant to the Memorandum from the Executive Secretary dated 18 March 2020 providing for additional guidelines for the Community Quarantine over the entire Luzon…”, the following guidelines are issued for the “smooth implementation” thereof.

Covered enterprises of the memorandum are the following:

•Manufacturing and Processing Plants of Basic Food Products, Essential Products, Medicine and Medical Supplies

• Retail Establishments

• Logistic Service Providers (Cargo Handling, Warehousing, Trucking, Freight Forwarding, and Shipping Line)

• Hospitals and Medical Clinics

• Food Preparations and Water Refilling Stations

• Delivery Services

• Banks and Capital Markets

• Power, Energy, Water, IT and Telecommunications Supplies and Facilities, Waste Disposal Services

• Export and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Companies

Though subject to random inspection, Lopez pointed out that they will not be delayed upon presentation of cargo manifest or delivery receipt which includes the destination, nature, and quantity of loaded goods or cargo. This is applicable to both cargoes which contain food and non-food.

As for the facilitation of transit of personnel covered by these enterprises which will be allowed to operate, DTI will issue an official IATF ID which will be available starting March 22, 2020. Export and BPO companies that will be operating will be on a skeletal workforce with strict social distancing implementation. In addition, they should be provided temporary housing facility or shuttle service arrangement and if applicable given a work-from-home arrangement.

In a public briefing last March 21, 2020, PNP spokesperson Brig. General Bernard Banac said that there has been an improvement in checkpoints as congestion is lessened. PNP ensures that the delivery of essential and basic commodities is given priority for fast passage given that they have IDs and certificates, or a tarpaulin on their vehicles that says essential and basic commodities.

In line with these new developments, the PEZA Director General issued on March 20, 2020 an advisory to its ecozones nationwide regarding the new guidelines in relation to the movement of ecozone workers and goods.

“PEZA continues to provide assistance to all its ecozones and export-oriented companies while adhering to the government’s health safety and quarantine requirements for its locators and workers” said Plaza.

Amidst addressing specific guidelines needed for ecozones and harmonizing them to Luzon-wide or nationwide directives from the President, the PEZA Chief stated that “With the collective effort of both the National Government and LGUs, we are hopeful we will be able to get through this crisis as one.”

The specific provision of Memorandum Circular No. 20-08 for ecozones:

According to the said memo, “the movement of ALL types of cargoes (Food & Non-Food within, to and from the entire Luzon SHALL BE UNHAMPERED. If subjected to random inspection (with cargo before delivery or empties after delivery), the movement of cargoes SHALL NOT BE DELAYED, upon presentation of the cargo manifest or delivery receipt indicating the destination, nature, and quantity of the loaded goods/cargoes.”