By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has ordered all ecozones and offices nationwide to assign a skeletal force in their operation and implement alternative work arrangements to maintain uninterrupted service to clients and locators.
In times of emergencies such as this coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, PEZA also extends emergency incentives assistance to ecozones and locators.
PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza issued this directive to ensure “business as usual” at the various ecozones. The said orders are in line with the President Duterte’s memorandum circular placing the National Capital Region (NCR) under “community quarantine” to stem the transmission of COVID-19.
For the duration of the “community quarantine,” Plaza has instructed all PEZA Head Office and Zone Offices in NCR, their respective Deputy Director Generals and NCR Zone Managers will determine what will be the alternative work scheme of their employees.
For those in the Public Zones and Special Zones outside NCR, a four-day work week will be implemented. This will consist of two work schedules from Monday to Thursday; and Tuesday to Friday.
During these days, employees can come in between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. PEZA also wrote to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to assist in unhampered land travel in and out of Metro Manila for employees and cargoes of industries.
“Passes/stickers shall include PEZA-accredited trucks transporting goods that are either for import or export of PEZA-registered companies,” said Plaza.
PEZA has also tapped the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to ensure the continuous production operations of the locator enterprises operating in the various PEZA ecozones.
“We informed the BOC that the Authority has resolved to be ‘business as usual’ to ensure unhampered service to our clients,” explained the PEZA Chief.
All PEZA units in Joint PEZA-Customs Offices (JPCO) in all ports will be open and manned by PEZA personnel in accordance to the work schedules of the BOC counterpart in the JPCO in the respective ports. All IT and export enterprises availing the authorization are also required to submit a report to the PEZA Chief, which will include the particulars of the course/s of action implementation and the justification/objective of the measure.
“PEZA is taking necessary measures to guarantee the safety of its employees in all its jurisdiction against COVID-19, which already has reported local cases in the Philippines,” said Plaza.
“We are doing our best not to cripple the economy but also to protect each other in times like this because, as Filipinos, it is our inherent duty to our flag and our country. At the same time, we want to give the best quality of service to our clients despite the threat of COVID-19.”
To date, PEZA has a total of 404 operating ecozones nationwide. Except for the 4 public ecozones, the rest are all owned, developed and managed by the private sector. These ecozones are host to 4,478 locator companies employing a total of 1,601,492 Filipino workers.
In 2019, PEZA generated ₱117.541-billion investments and $54.597-billion exports, accounting for 70 percent of the country’s total commodity exports and 16 percent of the GDP.