BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
The site director and general manager of Panasiatic Call Centers Inc. in Bacolod City appealed to the public to stop spreading fake news about their agents testing positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Siony Hijara-Ferraris yesterday said they have not yet received the official result of the swab test of their employee who passed away, and it is not true that the employee’s mother and roommate, a work-from-home agent, tested positive for COVID-19.
The mother underwent swab test Wednesday while the work-from- home agent was swabbed Tuesday.
Ferraris said reports that their 200 agents tested positive for the virus is not true since their results have not yet been released. Legal actions were already initiated to address the matter, she said, as their employees are being discriminated because of the fake stories.
“It is unfortunate that our communities chose to discriminate to turn away our employees, to instigate libelous attacks on their persons, and even locking them out of their homes or apartments which they have paid for with their hard earned money,” she said.
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia gave his commitment Wednesday to address the issue, Ferraris said.
Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, chairman of the city’s inter-agency task force against COVID-19, had earlier appealed to the public to stop discriminating call center agents.
There are three BPO companies in the city that reportedly have call center agents who are infected, City Administrator Em Ang said.
Ferraris said they are diligent in informing the Bacolod City Health Office (CHO) of suspected and positive cases of Panasiatic, including the list of employees who are part of their contact tracing process and the measures done to address the threat.
Anyone experiencing flu-like and upper respiratory symptoms and any COVID-like symptoms are prohibited from reporting to work and should contact the hotline for proper guidance, she said.
However, they have active cases just like in other organizations. But the public is assured that they are very aggressive and effective in filtering potential and active cases and that these employees are now on sick leave even before they were swabbed, Ferraris said.
Contact tracing have been conducted and even if the persons involved have tested negative, they are made to undergo a 14-day home quarantine, she said.
All their health and safety protocols were validated and upheld as all compliant by both the Department of Labor and Employment and the CHO in their meeting Wednesday. They have conducted full disinfection and sanitation of their two buildings, she added.
Ferraris said they chose to protect their employees by simply being honest with them about the real score on suspected and positive cases.
She said they are willing to pay extra for their employees healthcare and security and that they are already spending extra to transport them from home to work an back. They have about 21 vans for those working on site.
They are allowing their employees to take leaves if they are afraid to come to work. They will pay them to work at home but cannot stop them from reporting to work in spite of the risks, she Ferraris said.
They have about 1,498 working from home and about 1,950 on site, she said.
They have also hired about 1,000 new agents during the lockdown, she added.*