Lopez says PEZA enterprises to return to onsite operations April 1

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said registered business enterprises (RBEs) of Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) should resume onsite operations starting Friday, April 1, as required under the law.

Lopez, who is also chairman of PEZA, emphasized there is no extension of the 90-10 WFH arrangement, which was allowed by the Fiscal Incentives and Review Board (FIRB) as a form of assistance for PEZA RBEs during the pandemic. This assistance to PEZA RBEs will expire on March 31, 2022.
He explained that given the significant reduction in Covid-19 cases and the general economic recovery strategy, all businesses are enjoined to do more onsite operations to encourage the revival of the other sectors, particularly the Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) around offices.
But companies operating outside the economic zones have more flexibility as to the degree of WFH arrangements that is suitable to their operations, he added.
If PEZA-registered companies intend to adopt a hybrid WFH arrangement, especially if justified by the nature of their operations, e.g. service-exports, Lopez said this can only be adopted by revising the PEZA Law and CREATE Act.
In the meantime, PEZA-registered companies will have to abide by the applicable regulations in the definition of “export enterprise” under the PEZA Law and the CREATE Act.
Lopez further said there is no such 50-50 WFH plan under the Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP) because this not provided under the CREATE Law.
Lopez issued this clarification after PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza said the agency will be issuing a memorandum circular (MC) allowing its registered IT-business process management (IT-BPM) enterprises to continue operating 70 percent onsite and 30 percent work from home (WFH).
According to Plaza, PEZA will issue an MC instead of filing an appeal to the FIRB decision that denied its petition for continued hybrid work arrangement after March 31.
Based on her explanation, PEZA is trying to apply the same 70-30 (export-domestic) sales ratio allowable for its RBEs for its hybrid work arrangement proposal.
Plaza further said that the Strategic Investments Priority Plan technical working group also agreed to include 50 percent WFH arrangement for ecozone locators, regardless if the project is foreign or Filipino-owned.
Aside from this 70-30 ratio on foreign-domestic sales rule in the PEZA rules, the agency is also invoking the Telecommuting Act as another basis to allow its ITBPM RBEs to continue working outside the premises of approved ecozones or IT Parks/Buildings.