New guidelines on movement of ecozone workers, goods

March 22, 2020

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority has released  an advisory regarding the movement of ecozone workers and goods during the period of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

The advisory is effective to all ecozones operated, managed, or registered with PEZA nationwide.

“PEZA is in the frontline of this Covid crisis so our investors will continue to operate but we’ll strictly enforce the health safety requirements as pronounced for our Filipino workforce and investors alike," PEZA Director General Charito “Ching” Plaza said.

“There have been many questions, suggested solutions, interpretations of directives and memos from various agencies at the moment. With our three deputy director generals, zone administrators, zone managers, and few others, we are corresponding 24/7 just to keep everything in order. We are also making urgent solutions so our investors and employed Filipino workers will be assisted,” Plaza said.

To clear confusion, the recent advisory is in relation to the memoranda of the Office of the President dated March 16 and 18, 2020, the Department of Trade and Industry circulars dated March 18, 19 and 20, 2020, and the National Police guidelines updated as of March 20, 2020, at 3 p.m.

The new guidelines for qualified PEZA-registered business processing outsourcing and export-oriented companies as among those covered enterprises that may continue operations under the quarantine period are as follows:

Unhampered movement of ecozone cargoes and ecozone company shuttle buses/vehicles ferrying the workers within the immediate vicinity of the ecozone would be allowed even after the March 20 deadline, unless revoked by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force);

Quarantine measures such as work from home arrangement, maintaining a skeletal workforce on-site, provision of housing for the workers either inside or near the zone, social distancing, and use of shuttle services shall be strictly complied with. For this purpose, all are kindly reminded to please observe the directives on physical distancing, provision of face masks and other protective equipment for employees and provision of alcohol, sanitizers and frequent sanitizing of the workplace;

Ecozone workers on board company shuttle buses/vehicles must be ready to present at PNP-local government unit (LGU) checkpoints the following: a) valid company identification card; b) Proof of Residence; and c) proof of employment;

Ecozone workers need not present separate IATF IDs, company-issued IDs would suffice, and PEZA certifications/vehicle stickers/placards indicating ecozone destination shall be distributed to qualified locators after due vetting by respective Zone Administrator/Manager/Officer-in-Charge of their strict compliance with the aforesaid quarantine measures.

PEZA’s NAIA, Port of Manila, and Manila International Container Terminal Joint PEZA-Customs Offices would have no skeletal workforce during Saturdays and Sundays.

The schedule of services is from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., which is synchronized with that of the Bureau of Customs' schedule. The JPCOs are also accepting advance payments for the electronic import permit system and automated export declaration system.

“As we know that this Covid-19 crisis is a bitter pill to swallow, we are sympathetic to the difficulties you are all going through, together with your employees. We are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the situation. However, like all countries that are affected realize that lives are at stake and hard decisions must be made,” Plaza said.

She  also appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the LGUs to be consistent about the “unhampered movement of ecozone cargoes and ecozone company shuttle buses/vehicles ferrying the workers within the immediate vicinity of the ecozone” which have been allowed, unless revoked by the IATF.