The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is implementing a four-day work week, while the Philippine Ports Authority’s (PPA) port management offices (PMO) in Manila are in full commercial operation while Metro Manila undergoes a community quarantine.
Compressed working days for BOC personnel will either be from Monday to Thursday or Tuesday to Friday, with longer work hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to a memorandum signed by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero dated March 13.
The changes in work schedules are made in compliance with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF) Resolution No. 11. The resolution has declared the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the Philippines at Code Red Sub-Level 2 and recommended placing Metro Manila under community quarantine and suspending land and domestic air and sea travel from March 15 to April 14. Cargoes and foreign vessels are exempted from the travel restriction, but the ships’ crew members are subject to health and quarantine protocols.
BOC’s compressed working schedules will not apply to officers rendering 24/7 services, such as those involved in airport and port operations, intelligence operations, and enforcement operations.
Overtime services and face-to-face meetings will be discouraged as the use of technology such as e-mail, mobile communication and other similar means of communication is preferred.
BOC assistant commissioner and spokesperson Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla earlier told PortCalls that stakeholders are assured of minimal to no disruption of the agency’s frontline services while a flexible working schedule is being implemented.
PPA, in an advisory on March 14, said its head office in Port Area in Manila will deploy a skeletal workforce starting March 16, but its PMOs in Manila will remain in full commercial operations to service stakeholders.
In a port operations bulletin/advisory on March 13, PPA general manager Atty. Jay Daniel Santiago said all personnel in ports under the jurisdiction of the PPA are directed to coordinate, collaborate, and assist maritime authorities, local government units, immigration officials and health/quarantine officials to adopt, implement and enforce health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Port personnel are also directed to ensure adequate supply of hand sanitizers and washing facilities for employees and clientele.
They are also instructed to require stakeholders and port service providers to adopt similar health measures including establishing contingency resources necessary to respond to health-related situations.
Meanwhile, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) also issued guidelines stating that domestic cargo transport via sea will be allowed during the community quarantine period in Metro Manila to facilitate the movement of basic commodities and goods in and out of the metro.
Passenger travel via sea, however, will be suspended beginning March 15 until the lifting of the community quarantine, according to MARINA Advisory No. 2020-14 dated March 13. – Roumina Pablo