By Samuel P. Medenilla, Businessmirror, Feb 1, 2018
Economic-zone locators throughout the country will be subjected to thorough inspection by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to check their compliance with labor and safety standards, including possible use of illegal contractualization schemes.
Labor Undersecretary Joel B. Maglunsod told the BusinessMirror he already drafted an order for DOLE’s regional offices to prioritize the inspection of companies in areas under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza).
The inspection order is a result of the scrapping of two agreements between the DOLE and Peza.
In a statement issued earlier, the DOLE announced the revocation of its accords with Peza signed in March 2006 and June 2016 “ceding to the latter [Peza] the authority to inspect establishments in export zones.” “We are mainly responsible to ensure the occupational safety and health standards in various establishments and companies through our visitorial and enforcement powers vested in us by the Labor Code. We should not be passing on this responsibility to Peza or other agencies,” Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said.
The Peza, according to its web site, is currently managing 74 manufacturing economic zones; 261 information-technology parks; 22 agro-industrial economic zones; 20 tourism economic zones; and two medical tourism parks.
Aside from ensuring the compliance of Peza locators with labor and safety standards, Maglunsod said they will also assess if they are complying with government regulations on contractualization.
“Business establishments [with violations] will be required to submit a list of their work force and their action plan for their regularization,” Maglunsod said.
“I already finished the issuance. It is just awaiting the signature of the [labor[ secretary,” he added.
Bello said he made the decision to scrap the DOLE’s agreements with the Peza after the fire incidents in the House Technologies Industries Inc. (HTI) compound at the Cavite Economic Zone in February 2017 and the NCCC Mall, which includes the Survey Sampling International (SSI) office, in Davao City in December 2017.
The SSI office, which is in the fourth floor of the NCCC mall, is a special economic zone under Peza’s control. Five people died in the HTI incident, while 38 perished at the NCCC Mall fire.
The DOLE later found out HTI violated occupational safety and health standards, while the Peza admitted it allowed NCCC Mall to continue its operation, despite its noncompliance with the Fire Code.