One of the goals of the Bacolod - Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology (BNEFIT) is centered on creating a conducive business ecosystem for the locators in the province especially during this coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, its top official said.

Hajee Birth Aquino, president of BNEFIT, said the council continues to work with the local government units (LGUs) and agencies to continue to be true to its promise to the information technology - business process management (IT-BPM) companies.

Aquino made the statement following the recent concerns hounding the local BPO industry with regard to the implementation of quarantine measures in the province.

“The recent incident involving the apprehension of BPO company rented vans in the city by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Highway Patrol Group (HPG) was very unfortunate,” he said, adding that it should not have happened in the first place.

The council commended the response of the city’s inter-agency task force (IATF) against Covid-19 chaired by Vice Mayor El Cid Familliaran “for offering a resolution to the issue.”

Familiaran immediately called on the LTO and HPG to explain the reported operations against vans rented by BPO firms to be used as service vehicles for their workers while the enhanced community quarantine prevails.

During the meeting, it was agreed that for vehicles to be used as a means of transportation for BPO workers, their company needs to apply for a special permit from the LTFRB through email, provided that the vehicles already have a valid franchise.

The BNEFIT cited memorandum circulars of the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) which stated that “all personnel and workers comprising the skeleton workforce of ICT-BPO enterprises and establishments shall be permitted to pass through the control points to and from their place of work, upon presentation of their duly-issued company ID, proof of residence, or certification of employment.”

“To facilitate passage through control points, the official IATF accreditation ID shall be presented beginning March 26, 2020 unless extended,” it added.

In the bid to create conducive business environment for IT-BPM companies, the BNEFIT has acknowledged the guidance given by DTI-Negros Occidental as it navigates its way through all these challenges.

Aquino said the council has also initiated a conversation with the Provincial IATF against Covid-19 to address the issues of employees coming from outside the city.

Aquino said this is to ensure that those permits will be honored in the entire province as it is in Bacolod City.

“We are hoping that LGU’s and responsible agencies would work together to ensure that implementation of the said laws be easy and simplified so issues will be resolved immediately and that it would be prevented from happening in the future as we continue to fight this global pandemic,” he added.

Moreover, the IT-BPO industry and allied services remain to be the major job generators in the city and the province.

The council said, to this day, Bacolod City still remains to be one of the very few cities outside of Metro Manila to host IT-BPM companies.

Highlighting the contributions of the BPO industry to the city and province, it reported that IT-BPM companies throughout the province, a workforce of over 32,000 full-time employees, generates close to P4 billion annually.

A huge contribution considering the current economic state of the province and of the country as a whole, it said.

On the national level, BPO employees are regarded as one of the backbones of the country’s economy.

BNEFIT added that “as we praise the efforts of our frontliners in the medical field, we would like to also focus the spotlight on the efforts and the risk being taken by the BPO employees to ensure that the economy continues to thrive despite the challenges posed by the current global pandemic.”