THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said employees of companies allowed to remain in operation will be permitted through lockdown checkpoints, as will goods cargoes bound for factories.
In a revised memorandum issued Friday, DTI said employees working for enterprises that are exempt from the lockdown may pass through the checkpoints, and listed firms in industries like delivery services, hospitals and medical clinics, food preparation and water refilling stations, banks, power, telecommunications, and waste disposal services among the exempt.
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters in a mobile message said all cargoes are allowed to pass through checkpoints.
“We stressed the importance of unhampered cargo movement and allowing personnel in allowed establishments to pass through checkpoints.”
Business groups have been calling for consistent implementation of the unhampered movement of goods throughout Luzon.
Semiconductors and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Incorporated (SEIPI) President Danilo C. Lachica said in a mobile message that there were some hiccups in their cargo movements over land.
He said Sunday that recent directives and advisories from government may improve the movement of goods.
Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines President-Elect Pierre Carlo Curay said at an interview with ANC on Sunday that the implementation of the lockdown guidelines has improved.
“There were initial concerns because there was a couple of days where cargo wasn’t able to get to where they needed to be, or being stopped or being pushed back. But in the past four days, and reports the are coming in, the movement of goods is smoother.”
“In the next few weeks, supply will be constant.”
He said that he is looking forward to the implementation of dedicated lanes for cargo.
The delays in the movement of goods raised questions about the continued availability of raw materials to produce food.
The Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) on Friday wrote to Mr. Lopez, saying that the lockdown has impeded the delivery of raw materials to manufacturers, possibly causing shortages.
“There were just implementation glitches at first two days of ECQ since some trucks (were) stopped at checkpoints. That’s why perhaps they wrote me,” Mr. Lopez said.
PAMPI has said its imported materials were held up at the port because customs brokers cannot go to the Bureau of Customs (Boc) to process imports as they are not authorized to travel.
Bureau of Customs Assistant Commissioner and Spokesperson Vincent Philip C. Maronilla said in a mobile message Sunday that BoC has set up an online system to process shipments “at least on the BoC processing level.”
“We do however understand that the release of imported shipments entails some processing that involves other stakeholders as well such as the shipping lines and arrastre operators,” he said.
“We are encouraging them to adopt online systems and other measures to allow the processing of release on their end with no or minimal face-to-face interaction.”
He said the bureau is also working on guidelines for authorization orders for customs brokers to be able to work.
Meanwhile, PEZA on Saturday said it released new guidelines for the movement of people and goods across all their registered economic zones nationwide.
PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza is seeking from the Inter-Agency Task Force and local governments a consistent policy on the “unhampered movement of ecozone cargoes and ecozone company shuttle buses/vehicles ferrying the workers within the immediate vicinity of the ecozone.”
PEZA called for strict implementation of quarantine measures, including work-from-home arrangements, minimal on-site workforce, housing for workers, social distancing, and transportation services among companies in its ecozones.
“For this purpose, all are kindly reminded to please observe the directives on physical distancing, provision of face masks and other protective equipment for employees and provision of alcohol, sanitizers and frequent sanitizing of the workplace.”
PEZA said that ecozone workers do not have to present IATF IDs. Employees may present valid company IDs, proof of residence, and proof of employment at checkpoints.
Certifications for vehicles indicating ecozone destination, PEZA said, will be distributed to locators after the zone administrator, manager, or officer in charge vets the company’s compliance with quarantine measures.
“As we know that this COVID-19 crisis is a bitter pill to swallow, we are sympathetic to the difficulties you are all going through, together with your employees. We are ourselves overwhelmed by the magnitude of the situation. However, as all countries that are affected realize that lives are at stake and hard decisions must be made,” Ms. Plaza said. — Jenina P. Ibañez