21 March 2020 (Saturday)
Taguig City – The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has continuously collaborated with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Cebu to ensure the unhampered service to its clients and locators, while assuring the safety and welfare of its employees and clients alike, despite the current situation brought about by the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
According to PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza, “Rest assured that PEZA is coordinating non-stop with various government agencies and LGUs to address the concerns of its employees, clients and locators during this critical period.”
In March 19, a joint press conference of top Cebu officials, led by Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino and Governor Garcia, together with Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan, and Talisay City Mayor Samsam Gullas has been held to announce that “there will be no lock down in the province of Cebu.” Garcia assured the public that Cebu is one in fighting the pandemic and there is no need to place barriers between the respective local government units (LGUs).
Gov. Garcia emphasized that “supplies, cargos, and other commodities are still allowed to enter Cebu, adding that only the entry of passengers from outside provinces is prohibited.”
Likewise, they discussed the uniform policies on “movement control” to be implemented in the whole island of Cebu and its surrounding islets in the fight against COVID-19. Garcia pleaded for “all Cebuanos to do their part because the measures put in place need everyone’s collaboration.”
With this, the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) has released on the same day a Memorandum directing all Cluster II locator companies to strictly observe the local and national government’s directives to stop the spread of the virus while, at the same time, ensuring the unhampered service to its clients. The Memorandum includes the following:
1. Strict observe social distancing;
2. Implementation of thermal scanning and providence of 70% solution alcohol, sanitizers, and face masks for employees;
3. Immediate reporting of person under investigation or monitoring, if there is one;
4. Immediate suspension of operations and conduct of disinfection in facilities if there’s been a reported case; and
5. Continuous reporting/updating should there be COVID-related concerns.
In March 15, Plaza wrote to Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to request for consideration for exemption of PEZA-registered IT/BPO enterprises employees, who are working in the night shift from the directive imposing a curfew.
Plaza noted that “there will be around 170,000 employees of about 400 PEZA-registered IT/BPO enterprises in Cebu City, Mandaue City, and Lapu-lapu City to be affected by the curfew. In case the IT/BPO enterprises are not able to deliver their work for their clients abroad, their clients may just transfer their job accounts to their other facilities abroad since these IT/BPO enterprises have similar operations / facilities in other countries and may result to job losses.”
In line with the request, the PEZA Chief assured that the welfare and safety of the workers will not be sacrificed. “These IT/BPO enterprises are already implementing extraordinary preventive measures in response to the COVID-19 situation, all in pursuance of the directive from Malacanang,” said the Director General.
Plaza explained that “we are doing our best to assist our exporters and locators in this critical period.” She assured that “stringent social distancing measures, as pronounced, will be strictly implemented and monitored in all of PEZA’s ecozones. 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.”
PEZA has yesterday released an advisory on the movement of ecozone workers and goods in relation to the Memoranda of the Office of the President dated March 16 and 18, 2020, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Circulars dated March 18, 19 & 20, 2020, and the PNP guidelines updated as of March 20, 2020 @ 3:00 PM.