Press Release
March 29, 2022

Dispatch from Crame No. 1239:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima Expressing Support for Calls to Extend Tax Reliefs for BPOs with WFH arrangements and Suspend Return-to-Office Order

There are two things to this return-to-office order of the Fiscals Incentives Review Board (FIRB) to the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) firms. First is that it wants to dictate on how IT-BPM firms want to conduct their business. Second is that it wants to dictate on how IT-BPM employees spend their money.

Policy has always had a component of behavior modification to it. The government gives incentives for the behavior that they want to promote or punishment for those they want to curb.

When this pandemic started, our economic team wanted to keep the economy going in spite of the quarantine orders. Thus, in order to prevent closures, the FIRB gave tax incentives for IT-BPM firms who can adopt work-from-home (WFH) arrangements.

And worked it did.

IT-BPM firms invested in WFH arrangements for their employees, and it worked for everyone concerned. They were able to observe the health protocols implemented by the IATF. Their employees kept their jobs. And the economy lived to fight another day.

This was not an insignificant achievement. The IT-BPM industry was one of our lifelines during the worst days of the pandemic.

Now our economic managers want to forget all that just so the IT-BPM firms would be forced to re-modify their working arrangements and their employees, spend their hard-earned money in other businesses in the economic zones (eco-zones).

First of all, the pandemic is not over. While many places in our country are in Alert Level 1, the danger of the pandemic is still there if we do not continue to observe health protocols. We are seeing this in other countries who have drastically scaled back on their COVID-19 restrictions. Many IT-BPM employees stay at home to protect their household members who have co-morbidities and a high risk of contracting possibly fatal COVID-19 infections.

Secondly, we are in the midst of a transportation crisis. The price of petroleum products is at record highs and many of our transport service providers are contemplating on cutting back or stopping altogether because the cost of operations is not sustainable.

Thirdly, the WFH arrangement has been proposed to help decongest our traffic by reducing the density of commuting public. Under a WFH arrangement of an IT-BPM firm, productivity is increased due to the removal of inefficiencies brought about by terrible traffic conditions.

Finally, there is no guarantee that the return-to-office (RTO) order will redound to a net positive gain for our economy. The industry stands to lose resources and trained employees if there is an abrupt shift in the working arrangements. In the short term, there is no guarantee that the other businesses in the eco-zones will prosper during an ill-planned transition.

The intent to stimulate economic activities in the retail industries in the eco-zones is understandable but the request of the IT-BPM firms and employees are not unreasonable. A considerable investment has been made to keep our economy afloat and we owe it to the industry to allow them to ease the transition back to the eco-zones.

The WFH arrangements also allowed IT-BPM firms to hire more Filipinos beyond the capacity of their physical offices. It is something that we can look at to increase meaningful employment in our country.

For the said reasons, I join the call of the IT-BPM industry to suspend the RTO of the FIRB.

(Access the handwritten version, here:

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