THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) plans to establish its own Covid-19 testing facility in the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ).
“We are currently coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) for this program. We plan to provide both the rapid test kits and the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test on the said facilities so that the companies will have a choice on either of the methods,” said Peza Director Charito Plaza in a press release.
Setting up testing facilities will also be proposed to private economic zones across the country to be used exclusively by the workers, the agency said. Besides MEZ, Peza also plans to set up testing facilities in Baguio City Economic Zone, Pampanga Economic Zone and Cavite Economic Zone.
Plaza said the DOH and Peza will work together to determine cost-effective measures in the operation of the testing facilities.
“Workers’ testing will be paid by the locators while Peza employees (will be handled) by Peza,” she said.
Peza will also construct dormitories and housing facilities in its public ecozones and will have its own shuttle services for use by the locators.
“This will not only be used for emergencies but, in coping with the locators’ losses during the crisis. We are encouraging the private ecozone operators to do the same to ensure investors of safe and secured Philippine ecozones,” Plaza said. There are about 400 private ecozones in the country.
MEZ, a state-run ecozone, has about 134 operating locators. Since the start of the enhanced community quarantine in late March, 64 firms in MEZ temporarily halted operations to adhere to the government-mandated lockdown.
The plan to establish Covid-19 testing facilities in the ecozones is part of the agency’s efforts to support the recovery plans of its locators and at the same time create a Covid-free workplace environment.
“Under the Covid-free, green, healthy, sustainable, and smart economic zones program, Peza’s goal is to maintain its ecozones as Covid-free, with its strict enforcement of the health guidelines and directives to ensure the protection of both the workers, investors and host communities of ecozones,” said Plaza.
Peza also placed measures to support ecozone companies and workers through allowing locators to implement work-from-home arrangements for up to 70 percent, easing of the passing of requirements, extending of validity of certificates, deferring of payments, and giving grace period for old unpaid accounts, among others.