27 March 2020 (Friday)
Taguig City – After continuous consultation with the concerned stakeholders and authorities, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has decided to reopen or resume operations in the Cavite Economic Zone (CEZ), amending CEZ Memorandum Circular 2020-013 released on March 19, 2020 which halted all operations in the area due to the reported coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases or PUIs/PUMs in neighboring communities of the zones.
Plaza emphasized on Tuesday that PEZA is one with the government in the fight to contain COVID-19 and that the agency has already implemented safety measures in its premises and directed all ecozones and ecozone locators in Visayas and Mindanao to do the same.
“PEZA implemented preventive measures to help avoid or contain the virus to our offices and ecozones nationwide. We prioritize the need to protect the people, in order to be able to protect their source of livelihood and the economy as well. The spread of the virus in any of our ecozones will prove to be detrimental to everyone,” said Plaza.
Thermal scanners were provided for all the guards to check the employees’ temperature upon entrance. Additionally, alcohols were put in place to help remind the employees to properly sanitize.
Plaza lamented that "Total shut down of all companies will cripple the ecozones. We are both concerned about avoiding death from the virus and death from hunger. Moreover, not all workers are called to physically report to their companies per se. Work from home arrangement, maintaining a skeletal workforce on-site, provision of housing for the workers either inside or near the zone, social distancing, and use of shuttle services to ferry the employees shall be strictly complied with.”
President Rodrigo R. Duterte declared a State of Public Health Emergency and the State of Calamity all over the Philippines under the Presidential Proclamation Nos. 922 and 929. Under this proclamation, government agencies are directed to help stop the spread of this highly infectious disease by using the necessary resources to make urgent an appropriate disaster response for their respective areas of responsibility.
In support of the proclamation of the President, PEZA put in place additional COVID-19 preventive measures to guide all of its employees, developers, operators, registered enterprises and all zone administrators, zone managers, and OICs nationwide.
Memorandum Circular no. 2020-0016 states the following:
1. Ecozone developers shall regularly disinfect the economic zone’s premises such as the common areas and open spaces, roads, bridges, sidewalks, ancillary facilities, including utility infrastructures such as waste treatment facilities, substations, power and water generation facilities including distribution systems, plants, greens, and buffer zones.
2. Registered enterprises shall also regularly disinfect their premises especially the production area where the majority of the workers are located. Strict social distancing shall be implemented in the workplace. Registered enterprises are enjoined to implement this to prevent and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Zone Administrators and Zone Managers shall ensure compliance with the above-mentioned measures.
3. Work from home arrangement, maintaining a skeletal workforce on-site, provision of housing for the workers either inside or near the zone, social distancing, and use of shuttle services to ferry the employees shall be strictly complied with. For this purpose, all are kindly reminded to please observe the directives on physical distancing, thermal scanning, provision of face masks and other protective equipment for employees and provision of alcohol, sanitizers and frequent sanitizing of the workplace. If possible, doctors and nurses should be available in the ecozones.
4. Implement measures for quarantine of registered enterprises’ skeletal workforce in anticipation of local government units (LGUs) declaration of shutdowns/lockdowns to avoid contamination of ecozone premises and assure the continued operation of registered enterprises.
5. Registered enterprises are encouraged to develop an Infectious Disease and Response Plan or Business Continuity Plan that will guide the management and the workers against COVID-19. This will also ensure the continuous operation of companies during this difficult period.
6. An Ecozone-Wide Emergency Response Plan should also be implemented which would include basic orientation about COVID-19, how it spreads and affects the workplace, its symptoms, who are considered as high risks, steps to reduce exposure and development of policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation of infected workers.
7. Registered enterprises are also enjoined to constantly monitor the website of PEZA and other relevant government agencies for new advisories and information. Please refer to the following links:
Plaza clarified that “Ecozone developers/operators and registered enterprises nationwide are not precluded from implementing their own additional measures to put in place as they see fit to their situation in order to ensure that their facilities and ecozones are COVID-19 free.”
PEZA to require ecozones nationwide to acquire disinfectant drones and cubicles to insulate zones & workers from COVID-19
Director Plaza continues to take things to the next level to ensure the well-being of both workers and companies alike.
In addition to the guidelines in Memorandum Circular 2020-016, which includes housing facilities for the skeletal workforce who will come in to work and shuttle buses to accommodate their transportation, PEZA is also to require Ecozone operators and Locators-Companies to provide drones for their areas whose sole purpose will be to disinfect their facilities and streets. Further, acquiring of cubicles to insulate buildings and workers is to be done as well.
These are all part of PEZA’s continual pro-active and pre-emptive response to all forms of crisis.
“These past two weeks since the March 15 start of quarantine has truly been challenging for the country, the government, our frontliners, and many industries as we face the trials that COVID-19 continues to throw on us. The current situation that we are in has affected the business operations of 406 Economic zones which directly employs 1.6 M Filipinos. Currently, in Luzon, 847 companies are operating with a skeletal workforce or a work-from-home arrangement. 751 companies are non-operating or have no production as of the moment” Director Plaza explains.
She further continued to say that “only ecozones and companies that are compliant to COVID-19 quarantine requirements are to operate while imposing strict compliance of measures on health, economy, and public order.”
PEZA leadership is continually doing strategies and balancing acts to prevent the spread of this disease to protect the health of its workers, preserve their jobs, and the income of its Ecozones as well. At the same time, minimize the effects that this situation has currently put us in on the business operations of export companies’ so that it will not cripple the economy of the country.
You may check PEZA Memorandum Circular 2020-0016 through this link: http://www.peza.gov.ph/documents/mc2020016.pdf