MARIVELES, Bataan – Majority of locators at the Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB) here have returned to operation under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
Bataan was placed under MECQ, except Mariveles with heightened restrictions, from Aug. 23 to Aug. 31 after being under ECQ from August 8 to 22.
Paul Robert Salapantan, corporate affairs technical officer of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB), said on Wednesday that 85-90 companies have resumed operations with some still on lockdown to iron out their health and safety protocols.
He said as of end of July 2021 before the ECQ, 89 multi-national firms were open while before the pandemic, there were about 100 locators with more than 40,000 workers under their employ.
With the MECQ, 50 percent of the manpower are allowed to work and that means more than 20,000 returning to factories, a big number that caused confusion and overcrowding at the FAB gates on Aug. 23.
“Nakalulungkot na meron pailan-ilan gates na nagkaroon ng pagkukumpulan ng tao sa pagpasok noong umaga (Sadly, there were few gates that have bunch of people that were entering during morning),” Salapantan said in an interview.
He said as early as Aug. 20, AFAB was ready to present recommendations and meet with the municipal government, provincial health office, and the provincial Inter-Agency Task Force on what measures to take under the MECQ on Aug. 23.
“Gusto naming makapanayam sila para sa mga hakbang na gagawin sa pagbubukas ng MECQ ngunit Sabado na ng hapon kami nabalikan at nagkausap pero naiintindihan naman namin na maraming trabaho ang lahat kaya Saturday evening na naipadala ang invitation for zoom meeting (We want to interview them for the measures to be undertaken at the start of the MECQ but only on Saturday afternoon we were able to talk. However, we understand that they were lots of work thus it was only Saturday evening that the invitation for zoom meeting was passed),” Salapantan said.
He said AFAB observed on Aug. 24, a big improvement in the situation at the gates unlike in the previous morning.
Guards continuously reminded workers to observe safety protocols and there was no more overcrowding at the gates.
“Further improvements will be seen kapag nakapag-issue na kami ng color coded gate passes (once we issue color coded gate passes) at naniniwala ako na ito ang malaking makakatulong para hindi na masyadong matagal ang beripikasyon kung ang tao ay dapat pumasok sa araw na iyon (and I believe that this could help a lot so that the verification of the people who must go to work that day will not take long),” the AFAB official said. (PNA)