BIZ BUZZ: Peza deregistration
Before the issuance by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) of the return to office (RTO) imprimatur (even if it’s sympathetic to its constituents) a few days ago, some Information Technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) firms were still hoping that a compromise was possible.
From just a minimum of 10 percent of RTO workforce that they were allowed to maintain during this COVID-19 pandemic, the beleaguered industry was hoping that instead of 100 percent RTO by April 1, they would be allowed to bring back just 30 percent without losing their fiscal incentives as special ecozone locators.
A petition “BPO tutol sa RTO (BPO against RTO) has been lodged with change.org with a target to reach at least 5,000 signatories. (As of press time on Thursday, over 4,800 have signed).
“Our ability to work from home or work from anywhere (WFH/WFX) helps keep us and our families safe,” the petition said.
Rejecting their appeal to extend flexible working arrangements until September 2022 was “inconsiderate, insensitive and inhumane,” the petition said, adding this was “certainly not how you treat the new economic front-liners of the country.”
“We are not completely out of the woods of this pandemic. Even with more people vaccinated, the environment remains volatile: COVID surges are expected, new coronavirus variants may emerge, vaccine and booster effectiveness will eventually wear off. The occupational safety and health committees, with employee representation, are in the best position to evaluate safety in our workplaces and recommend a safe full RTO or to maintain the present hybrid setup—not a government that ignores real-life conditions.”
But for some BPOs that find it impossible to comply with 100-percent RTO, deregistration from Peza has emerged as an option. Some of them have expanded rapidly during the pandemic and recruited workers based in the provinces, who could not be easily uprooted and relocated to, say their physical office in Metro Manila. It’s possible that they may just give up Peza sweeteners in favor of operating more efficiently using a hybrid model.
In any case, the industry can look forward to the May 9 elections for a potential reboot of the government’s hardline stance, although the next CEO of the land isn’t officially assuming office until June 30.
Thousands of BPO workers have expressed support for Leni Robredo, being the first to acknowledge the WFH issue and perceived to be the most “BPO-friendly” (and they also initiated the petition cited here). But the current front-runner Bong Bong Marcos has also stated in his vlog his support for WFH. Manny Pacquiao and Leody de Guzman are also supportive.
To be sure, they are disappointed with the Peza’s apparent “backpedaling” (which shattered hopes for any compromise toward an easier transition). Unfortunately, Peza doesn’t have the final say on this matter.
Sy-led China Banking Corp. and its investment banking arm China Bank Capital scored big wins at the recent 2022 PDS Awards.
Hosted by the Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corp. over the last 16 years, the tradition predates even the 2008 global financial crisis and stands as a reminder of how much the industry had grown and endured despite its many challenges.
The event was more meaningful for China Bank after it was the conferred the Cesar E.A. Virata Award, under the bank category.
The lender said in a statement this was the “highest distinction that the PDS Group bestows on a partner bank, for its excellence in trading, distribution, settlement, origination, underwriting and market making activities in the past year.”
“We in the China Bank Group are grateful and honored to be recognized for our commitment to serving retail and institutional investors and deepening the domestic capital markets,” said China Bank president William Whang.
China Bank Capital was not far behind. It was recognized as the top corporate issue manager/arranger, under the investment house category.
The investment bank led 13 out of the 16 corporate retail bonds that were issued in the local market. It also participated in a wide range of transactions spanning sovereign issuances, bank bonds and US dollar securities.
—Miguel R. Camus
Hearts and minds campaign
While critics of its proposed elevated toll road project are busy opposing its plans, San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is busy making sure that its other mega project—its P735-billion airport in Bulakan, Bulacan—will be as beneficial to the local community as it will be to the wider economy.
Biz Buzz learned that the conglomerate, through its San Miguel Aerocity Inc. unit, is forging ahead with livelihood restoration and improvement initiatives for communities in and around the site of the New Manila International Airport.
According to San Miguel president and CEO Ramon Ang, the company recently implemented new programs aimed at helping ensure communities throughout Bulacan will benefit from both the airport’s construction and operations.
Naturally, the townsfolk from the airport’s site in Bulakan, Bulacan, along with various organizations—the immediate beneficiaries of the economic boost that the project will provide—have expressed their support, saying it will bring jobs, better income opportunities and meaningful development that will turn their province into a major aviation and investment hub in Southeast Asia.
One such person who expressed his support was Bulakan Mayor Vergel Meneses who welcomed the long-term jobs that the project would generate for his town’s residents, and well as the project’s ability to attract more investments.
As part of its livelihood restoration efforts, San Miguel recently provided some 198 graduates of its entrepreneurship training program, with initial business startup capital, to be able to start or expand their own small businesses.
It also launched its SMC Education Assistance Program last December, which initially benefited 81 students belonging to 185 relocatee-families.
Meanwhile, a total of 14 graduates of a heavy equipment operations course under a partnership between San Miguel and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) have been employed at SMC’s Tullahan and Pasig River Rehabilitation projects.
Since October 2021, the SMC-Tesda program has produced a total of 580 graduates from both school-based and community-based training programs.
The local people seem happy. Now, the next challenge will be to win over outsiders.
—Daxim L. Lucas
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