Manila call centres push back on ecozone ban

Filipino premier calls on outsourcers to explore provincial office locations

Bonifacio Global City, Metro Manila, Philippines. MilletStudio/Shutterstock

A moratorium on the approval of applications for economic zones in Metro Manila area may lead to deleterious effects on the vital business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, according to the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP).

The moratorium, implemented June by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) on a directive by President Rodrigo Duterte, aims to spread the largess of the sector to cities beyond the capital.

Investors will be put off by the move, however, opined CCAP chairman Benedict Hernandez to SunStar. “CCAP sees that more dialogues between the industry and government is needed to alleviate these concerns.

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“CCAP, likewise, continues to advocate that we support a ‘hub and spoke’ model for investors as locators need Metro Manila as their first landing destination in the country before they start expanding in the provinces.”

Only Cebu, Iloilo, and Cagayan de Oro, as well as the provinces of Pampanga and Naga have available PEZA-registered buildings for IT and BPO tenants. Ecozone authorities have assured BPO players that the moratorium will not have a grave impact on Cebu, according to Wilfredo Sa-a, executive director of the Cebu IT-BPM Organisation.

As of early July, the moratorium has stalled or affected around 22 building projects  in Metro Manila that cater to IT and BPO companies, according to PEZA. The projects represent a value of more than PHP34 billion (USD660 million).