- The Philippine Economic Zone Authority wants PEZA workers included in the A4 priority group for COVID-19 vaccination
- PEZA director general Charito Plaza said PEZA-registered companies, ecozone and industry workers are considered frontline workers since their service contributes to the global supply chain
- 90% or 2,701 companies in PEZA zones are operating nationwide with 1.194 million employees working under various work schemes for period covering April 12-16
- PEZA is helping facilitate locators’ purchase of vaccines
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to include frontline workers in the A4 priority group for COVID-19 vaccination.
In an April 23, 2021 letter to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr., PEZA director general Charito Plaza explained: “PEZA-registered companies, ecozone and industry workers are considered frontline workers as they have continued working to ensure the unhampered service to contribute to the global supply chain.”
Plaza noted that through various phases of the community quarantine, “the IATF has always managed to strike a balance between the need to aggressively respond to COVID-19 and the need to allow essential business sectors to operate and keep the economy afloat.”
“Hence, the BPO [business process outsourcing] and export-oriented sectors were allowed to operate as a measure to cushion the adverse impact of COVID-19 to the economy, subject to strict compliance with health and quarantine protocols,” Plaza added.
During the modified enhanced community quarantine period from April 12 to 16, PEZA zones reported that 90% or 2,701 locator companies were operating nationwide, with 1.194 million employees working under various work schemes. Per sector, the information technology-BPO industry was 84% operational, while the manufacturing sector was 94% operational.
Referring to PEZA’s “balancing acts” and relief measures during the pandemic, the PEZA chief said: “PEZA has been hitting two birds [with] one stone since the beginning of this health crisis. As we give assistance and reprieves to our locator companies who play a big role in keeping our economy afloat, we are protecting the jobs and livelihood of our 1.5 million workers.”
PEZA also cited various memoranda released by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that emphasized how important the work of locators and ecozone workers is during this pandemic and in preparing the country for post-COVID economic rebound.
The authority said it is helping to facilitate the locators’ purchase of vaccines on a per ecozone basis for ease of administration and subject to strict compliance with COVID vaccination protocols.
To date, PEZA manages a total of 410 economic zones across the Philippines with about 4,643 registered locator companies.
“The ecozone vaccination program is one best way PEZA can contribute to the attainment of herd immunity, which will accelerate the country’s full reopening of the economy and transition to the new normal,” Plaza said.
The A4 priority group of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan includes workers in priority economic sectors who have high levels of interaction with or exposure to the public and who cannot dutifully practice the minimum public health standards at work.
These workers are those needed to ensure security and consumer and worker safety, and those working in priority government projects, including, among others, workers engaged in the manufacturing of food, beverage, medical and pharmaceutical products.
Those under A4 will be vaccinated after A1 (health workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (persons with comorbidities) groups are through with their jabs.
National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Rosemarie Edillon earlier said the A4 priority group is targeted for vaccination by July, as the first three groups are nearly done with their shots.
“We also project that vaccine supply will be widely available by September 2021, with enough doses to inoculate groups A1 to A4 and to begin vaccine deployment for the remaining adult population not included in the first four priority groups,” Edillon added.