21 March 2020 (Saturday)
Taguig City – Amidst the Luzon-wide ‘enhanced community quarantine’, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which has 406 registered ecozones nationwide and more than 4,501 locator companies, clarified on Saturday the rules when said companies in PEZA decide to shut down or the whole privately-developed ecozone will be shut down temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
PEZA Director General Charito “Ching” Plaza explained the rules set by PEZA Management regarding either the temporary closure of companies located in ecozones registered in PEZA or the temporary closure of privately-developed ecozones in the country.
“The First Rule is when it is the prerogative or decision of a single company to shut down and this prerogative may depend on different grounds, reasons, or problems they encounter,” said the PEZA Chief.
Plaza enumerated the following reasons for a company or ecozone to temporarily close:
A. The lack of raw materials and importations due to closure or difficulty of receiving packages and logistics from foreign suppliers. It means that production of manufacturing or assembly-line companies in the Philippines cannot continue its operations due to the delay or stoppage of importation.
B. Shortage of workers who cannot report to work in the company located in ecozones and cannot travel due to absence of mass transportation and/or banning of public utilities by authorities.
C. Costly or not feasible for companies to provide housing facility and there is scarcity of spaces near the zones to house their workers.
D. Some LGUs hosting ecozones or LGUs adjacent to or surrounding ecozones are inconsistent by issuing their own directive whereas the IATF has approved the “unhampered movement of ecozone cargoes and ecozone company shuttle buses/vehicles ferrying the workers within the immediate vicinity of the ecozone”.
“The Second Rule is when it is the whole ecozone concerned which aims to temporarily shutdown. It shall be done with the consent or concurrence of the locators of the ecozone in the area,” said Plaza
For the second rule, Plaza said the decision shall be based on the following reason:
1. There is COVID-19 victim/s so there is a need to undergo the ecozone into quarantine and disinfecting.
However, Plaza said that “Specific ecozones that aim to shutdown must be consulted first to locators, company-associations and to PEZA.”
The PEZA Chief assured that “PEZA is fully assisting the concerns of our ecozone locators and operators and the Filipino workers alike. We also laud the pronouncement of the President encouraging private companies to be considerate to their employees about their compensations amidst the COVID-19 crisis.”
Moreover, Plaza encouraged that “Logistic hubs that are part of ecozones’ operations be unhampered or are still fully operational in order to continue shipments to and from global market, while observing health safety measure. If our support for ecozones and our economy is not consistent, this will greatly affect many Filipinos.”
As the said rules above are set, Plaza said that PEZA is mulling over to lift the shutting down of Cavite Economic Zone (CEZ). Since March 19, 2020, PEZA suspended operations of all the business establishments in CEZ until further notice under CEZ Memorandum Circular no.2020-013.