Over 700 ecozone firms suspend operations
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - March 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Over 700 ecozone locators have suspended operations as the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) directed all ecozones and locators in the country to strictly implement measures against the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 including providing temporary housing for workers.

PEZA director general Charito Plaza said 751 companies in ecozones in Luzon have no production at the moment.

She said among the reasons for the suspension is the lack of raw materials as foreign suppliers mostly from China have either stopped or slowed down operations due to COVID-19.

She also said some locators cannot comply with the requirements to operate such as providing housing facilities or shuttle facilities for employees.

PEZA has directed all ecozones and locators nationwide to implement preventive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Under PEZA Memorandum Circular (MC) 2020-0016 dated March 23, preventive measures firms should implement include providing housing for their workers either inside or near the zone, social distancing, and using shuttle services to ferry employees.

Registered enterprises are also encouraged to develop an Infectious Disease and Response Plan or Business Continuity Plan against COVID-19 to ensure continuous operation.

PEZA said an ecozone-wide emergency response plan should likewise be implemented to cover basic orientation about COVID-19, steps to reduce exposure, and policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation of infected workers.

In addition to regularly disinfecting premises, PEZA is requiring ecozone operators and locator companies to provide drones to disinfect their facilities and streets, and to acquire cubicles to insulate buildings and workers.

Plaza said “only ecozones and companies that are compliant to COVID-19 quarantine requirements are to operate while imposing strict compliance of measures on health, economy, and public order.”

In a separate memo or MC 2020-0017 dated March 25, PEZA said it is extending the validity of expired or expiring letters of authority (LOAs) of  accredited service enterprises such as customs brokers, freight forwarders or handlers, including those in the Visayas and Mindanao, during the period of enhanced community quarantine, until June 30, for unhampered movement of goods in ecozones.

For customs brokers and freight forwarders, PEZA said the validity of LOAs is extended until June 30, as long as the licenses issued by the regulatory body for them to operate are valid within the said period.

As for truckers or haulers, their LOAs would be extended if they have valid franchise or provisional authority from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

For security agencies not covered by the registration agreements, their certification to serve PEZA-registered enterprises is extended until June 30, as long as they have a valid license to operate from the Philippine National Police.

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