By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
A total 707 export-oriented manufacturing firms have been forced to stop operation, temporarily at least, following the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic displacing 175,249 workers as a result.
Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director-General Charito B. Plaza shared the result of their survey conducted March 26-April 13, 2020 to determine the status of their registered enterprises since the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was implemented in the entire Luzon, triggering subsequent lockdowns in Visayas and Mindanao.
The PEZA status report showed there were 1,749 firms that responded to their study and were categorized as operating and non-operating.
Although the number of firms that have stopped operation and displaced workers were significant, PEZA said the 707 firms accounted for 40 percent only of total 1,749 respondent firms. In addition, the affected 175,249 employees accounted for 15 percent only of total 1,141,582 workers.
PEZA further stressed that the majority of 1,042 firms still continue to operate, accounting for 60 percent of the total firms surveyed. These operating firms include fully operational (38 firms), skeletal force and work from home with production and operation (535 firms), skeletal force with produc¬tion and operation (166 firms), and work from home (303 firms).
In terms of employment, these operating firms continued to employ a total of 966,333 workers, accounting for 85 percent of total pie of 1,141,582 manpower pool.
The operating category includes 29,394 workers from the 38 firms with full operation; 687,962 workers from the 535 firms in skeletal force and work form home with production and operation; 104,499 from 166 workers with skeletal force with production and operation; and 144,478 workers from 303 firms with work from home opera¬tion.
PEZA also reported that 484 of its registered firms have suspended operations but continue to pay their workers. Of these companies, 450 are located in Luzon, 27 in Visayas and 7 in Mindanao.
The status report also noted that during this ECQ period, PEZA companies have encountered some operational issues. These include port clearing and online facilitation in their import and export shipments. They also encountered issues on availability of workers; checkpoints, access of goods, raw materials/supplies; and access to government institutions for per¬mits/clarification on issuances, and emergency assistance.
PEZA-registered firms also implemented ECQ measures to protect the health of employees such as provision for thermal scanning, sanitizers, alcohol, personal protective equipment and face masks; regular disinfection of workplace and production areas; provision of accommodation inside and or within the immediate vicinity of the zone; and provision of shuttle service.