Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General Charito B. Plaza. — PHILSTAR.COM FILE PHOTO

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) may push back the expiration date for income tax holiday (ITH) incentives enjoyed by locators in areas affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.

In a news conference in Taguig City Friday, PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza announced an upcoming meeting with industry associations and economic zone developers of the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (Calabarzon) region to discuss disaster response measures.

“One action, for example, of PEZA to support our locators is we allow the tax and duty- free importation of face masks, and then we will adjust the running time of those who are still enjoying the income tax holiday (ITH). In other words, mai-extend ‘yung kanilang ITH (the ITH period will be extended) if they are still… enjoying it,” Ms. Plaza told reporters.

Asked how long the extension will be, she said it will vary because various locators granted pioneer product status enjoy the incentive for eight years. “If it’s not a pioneer (product), four to six years. So those affected industries in Calabarzon, once they are still in the period of ITH, we will adjust in counting the running time or the running period.”

“Parang dadagdagan namin. Halimbawa, how many days affected ‘yung kanilang operations, so e-suspend, not running and counted (We will effectively add time to the ITH period, for example we may not count the days when their operations were affected),” she added.

Ms. Plaza said that for now the proposal covers the Taal eruption-affected locators only. “But we have to make it a policy during disasters,” she added.

There are 60 ecozones in Calabarzon. Ms. Plaza said that the closest ones to Taal Volcano are Laguna Technopark, Lima Technology Center, and First Philippine Industrial Park.

“No damage reported, 90% of the locators are now operational,” she said. “In summary, majority, if not all, of our locators in Calabarzon are safe, so they are now resuming their operations. But we still have to be alert.”

Ms. Plaza said further that PEZA will now require ecozone developer applicants to get a new hazard clearance.

She said the new requirement will ensure that ecozone locations are away from danger and disaster-prone areas.

Taal Volcano continued to spew ash, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said in its 8 a.m. report on Thursday.

Alert level 4 remains in place, which means the government is preparing for an imminent explosive eruption. — Arjay L. Balinbin