23 March 2020 (Monday)
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.
PEZA Director General Charito “Ching” Plaza said that “the resumption order aims to attain PEZA’s overall goal of business continuity so as not to cripple the economy during this period. We are thinking of the employment of more than 60, 000 Filipino workers and maintaining our economy amidst surviving crisis caused by COVID-19.”
According to Plaza, “PEZA’s exporters as global market-driven are most vulnerable to world trade and military wars, local and global disasters or calamity like the global pandemic COVID-19 amongst others. However, we will do our best to not totally shut down our economy and the livelihood of our thousands of workers.”
The PEZA Chief allayed concerns saying that, “Nevertheless, PEZA will strictly enforce and comply with the health and quarantine measures and requirements as mandated by the National Government. The Authority assures that it values the health and safety of its locators, workers, and surrounding communities and supports the government’s effort in trying to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
CEZ Memorandum Circular 2020-017
On March 22, PEZA released CEZ Memorandum Circular 2020-017 which advises companies’ resumption of operations in CEZ on the condition that they can comply with the guidelines set by the government.
The Office of the President, through the Memorandum of Executive Secretary Medialdea dated 16 March 2020, and the Department of Trade and Industries (DTI), through MC # 20-06 & 20-08, have set the guidelines for the continuous operations of BPOs and export oriented establishments, as follows:
1. Memorandum of ES Medialdea dated 16 Mach 2020 (Community Quarantine over the Entire Luzon), effective 17 March 2020:
1.1 Par. 5 thereof provides that BPO and export oriented industries shall remain operational, subject to the condition that strict social distancing measures are observed, their respective personnel are provided appropriate temporary accommodation arrangements by 18 March 2020, extended up to 22 March 2020 at 11:59 PM per IATF Resolution No. 14, announced by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, today at 2:20 PM and that a skeletal work force shall be implemented;
1.2 Par. 6 thereof provides that mass public transport facilities shall be suspended. Thus, private shuttle services shall be provided to ferry the workers from the approved place of accommodation to the worksite. PEZA will issue shuttle vehicle stickers upon application by companies through email with a list of plate numbers of the shuttle service which may then be obtained from CEZ administration;
1.3 Par. 7 thereof provides that movements of cargoes within, to and from the entire Luzon shall be unhampered, reiterated in the 22 March 2020 announcement of CABSEC Nograles.
2. DTI Memorandum Circular No. 20-06 dated 19 March 2020 and Memo Circular No. 20-08 dated 20 March 2020:
2.1 Export and BPO Companies shall be allowed to continue operations with a skeletal workforce, subject to strict observance of social distancing measures and provisions of appropriate temporary accommodation arrangements or shuttle service within the immediate vicinity of the workplace. Where applicable, a work-from-home (WFH) arrangement will also be encouraged;
2.2 Personnel of BPOs and export-oriented establishments, setting up the foregoing arrangements shall be allowed to travel subject to presentation of proof of employment, address of employer and residence;
2.3 Movement of all types of cargoes 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.
3. IATF Resolution No. 14 dated 22 March 2020 announced by CABSEC Nograles at 2:20pm:
The deadline given to BPOs and export oriented establishments (including those inside economic zones), to prepare for their respective alternative work arrangements, such as the SETTING UP OF THE TEMPORARY ACCOMODATIONS for their workers, the NEED TO SHUTTLE EMPLOYEES, the transfer of necessary equipment to facilitate work from home arrangements, shall be extended until 11:59 PM of 22 March 2020.
For CEZ companies which can comply with the guidelines set by the government, their business operations in CEZ may resume. As the decision to resume operations lies on the company’s management, they are advised to strictly follow the rules.
Further, there shall be no commute or pick up of employees from place of residence or pick up point to zone.
PEZA Chief orders advance implementation of COVID quarantine measures
In line with this, the Director General also directed all ecozone operators and companies nationwide to implement COVID-19 quarantine measures in its area of jurisdiction. Such includes disinfecting its facilities, strict implementation of social distancing, and health monitoring.
Implementation of various work schemes like skeletal force and work-from-home arrangements will also be up for consideration of the companies. Should they be opting for the skeletal force, provision of temporary housing and shuttle bus services shall be provided.
Plaza said that “As much as we remain true to our mandate for the country, we also need to do our part to become a cure at this point in time. We should be pro-active in dealing with the matter at hand.” She added that “this is our way to assist our exporters and locators in this critical period. We assure that social or physical distancing measures, as pronounced, will be strictly implemented and monitored in all of PEZA’s ecozones to ensure the welfare and safety of Filipino workers and locators alike.”