Cavite ecozone hums back to life

Published by rudy Date posted on May 14, 2020

By: Maricar Cinco – Reporter, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 14 May 2020

MANILA, Philippines — About 40,000 workers are expected to report back to factories and assembly lines in Cavite province once businesses reopen after nearly two months of suspended operations due to the lockdown imposed by the national government to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

As Cavite prepares to ease its quarantine rules, local officials are still making adjustments to travel restrictions, especially since public transport is allowed to resume only on a limited passenger capacity.

Avoiding contact

Another issue was the cross-border movement between provinces with varying sets of rules, said Noel Bartolabac, regional director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon).

This affects particularly the workers living in Laguna but who are employed in manufacturing and business processing companies inside Cavite’s export processing zones. Laguna remains under a modified enhanced community quarantine until May 31, while the rest of the region transitions to a more relaxed modified general quarantine by May 16.

Norma Tañag, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) manager for Cavite, said that ideally, workers with company identification cards and employment certificates should be allowed through the checkpoints. “But we still encourage [companies to provide] shuttle services to avoid contact with the general public during commute,” she said.

Under the new guidelines, companies are allowed to increase their production capacity up to 70 percent of their total workforce. Evening shifts will also be allowed to resume.

“They [companies] are all preparing for that now,” Tañag said.

Safety protocols

According to the Peza, 138 of 278 companies in Cavite’s industrial parks are operating on a skeleton force since the lockdown in mid-March, with 22,022 workers reporting in factories out of the total 86,770.“We’re expecting that number [of reporting workers] to double by Saturday (May 16),” Tañag said.Gov. Juanito Victor Remulla said municipal and city governments would issue transit passes for individual travel within the province.

But those 20 years old and below [even when employed] and pregnant are still not allowed to leave their homes based on the IATF-EID guidelines, he said.

Liquor ban and curfew (8 p.m. to 5 a.m.) will remain in effect.

“We have zero [coronavirus] case [in Cavite export zones]. There was just one, a production operator at (First Philippine Industrial Park) in Batangas who had died of suspected [coronavirus],” Tañag said.She said contact tracing was done in the Batangas factory.

Fresh wave

To prevent a fresh wave of infection in Cavite, Tañag said the Peza would strictly monitor workplaces for physical distancing, personal protective equipment, and regular disinfection of worksites and equipment.

Remulla also said factory workers would be among the local government’s priority for a targeted mass testing, along with health workers, government front-liners, public vehicle drivers and market vendors.

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