Half of Subic Freeport firms resume operations

Published by rudy Date posted on June 5, 2020

By Henry Empeño, Businessmirror, 5 Jun 2020

Subic Bay Freeport—Practically half of all the registered Subic Bay Freeport business locators are now operating under various manpower load and production level, after the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) placed the economic zone under a less restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ) on Monday.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the SBMA has lately greenlighted 14 companies to start operations under GCQ rules, thus bringing the total number of open businesses here to 868.

The total includes the 568 firms that remained open when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) took effect on March 16, and 286 companies that were allowed to resume business after Subic shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) on May 16.

Eisma said most of the firms operating now are manufacturers of export products, producers and suppliers of food and medicine, into logistics operation, and utility operators.

“The total number of locators that are now allowed to operate is just half of the 1,648 enterprises registered in Subic, but we are expecting more reopening in the coming weeks, as more qualified companies comply with minimum safety protocols specified under government guidelines,” she said.

“Still, we have to remind everybody that we don’t allow companies to just open—even if they are qualified to open under Inter-Agency Task Force [IATF] guidelines—without first passing compliance assessment by the SBMA.”

The assessment entails an ocular inspection by SBMA health and safety officials, as well as the Incident Management Team, which coordinates the agency’s Covid-19 response program, and is based on guidelines on workplace prevention and control of Covid-19 issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Eisma said among the requirements for submission is the company’s Personnel Deployment Plan (PDP), which takes into consideration social distancing in work areas.

Meanwhile, SBMA Deputy Administrator for Business Kenneth Rementilla said that IATF guidelines categorized industries into four groups: 100 percent or full operational capacity; 50 percent up to full operational capacity; 50 percent work-on-site arrangements, work-from-home, and other alternative work arrangement; and not allowed to operate.

He said all applications for company reopening is checked against the SBMA Business and Investment Group’s consolidated list of locators that listed the firms under the four categories.

The industries that broadly fall under Category I, which allowed full operational capacity, are: agriculture, forestry, and fisheries; manufacturing and processing plants; hospitals and clinics; retail establishments; laundry shops; food establishments and water-refilling stations; logistics and delivery service providers; and those engaged in power, energy, water, information technology and telecommunications.

Also allowed for full operation are firms doing water collection, treatment and supply; waste collection, treatment and disposal, and materials recovery; sewerage, pest control, garbage collection and disposal, sewer maintenance and treatment; repair and installation of machinery and equipment; real-estate activities; gasoline stations; construction work accredited by the Department of Public Works and Highways; manufacturing companies and suppliers of equipment or products necessary to perform construction works; and media establishments.

Meanwhile, those in Category IV which are not allowed to operate include: gyms, fitness studios and sports facilities; entertainment and amusement industries; libraries, museums, and other cultural centers; tourist destinations; travel agencies, tour operators, reservation service; gambling and betting stations; personal care services; and any other leisure establishments that promote mass gathering.

Under GCQ, the SBMA relaxed access to the Subic Bay Freeport as more business locators resumed operation, but Eisma said strict health and safety measures against Covid-19 will remain in force in the Freeport zone.

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