THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is asking the national task force handling the coronavirus response to include its locators’ workers among the A4 priority group for vaccination, which covers non-medical frontliners. PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza wrote a letter to Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., designated vaccine czar, on April 23 to ask for the inclusion of ecozone employees among the frontline workers next in line for inoculation. She noted that outsourcing and export-oriented firms that make up PEZA locators were allowed to have limited operations even during the strictest lockdown. “The BPO (business process outsourcing) and export-oriented sectors were allowed to operate as a measure to cushion the adverse impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) to the economy, subject to strict compliance with health and quarantine protocols,” she said in a press release on Tuesday. Under the government’s vaccination priority list, the A4 category includes frontline personnel in essential sectors such as transportation, overseas Filipino workers, and members of the media. The government is aiming to vaccinate those in the A1-A4 lists within the first half of the year.

Meanwhile, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said vaccine confidence has increased within the labor sector and majority of workers are willing to be inoculated against the coronavirus. “Noong una mababa talaga eh, ngayong pataas ng pataas (In the beginning it was really low, but now it gets higher and higher),” ECOP President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis said in a briefing on Tuesday. He also assured that vaccination will remain voluntary in compliance with the Labor department’s rule. At the same time, the Department of Labor and Employment on Tuesday released an advisory encouraging employers to have their workers inoculated under the private sector’s vaccine procurement initiative or the government program. “Employers shall continue to urge their employees to avail their own vaccination program, if any, or their respective local government units,” the advisory dated May 1 said. — Jenina P. Ibañez and Gillian M. Cortez