Rajah & Tann Regional Round-Up
your snapshot of key legal developments in Asia
Issue 2 - Apr/May/Jun 2021

Guidelines on Administration of COVID-19 Vaccine in Workplaces

The Department of Labor and Employment ("DOLE") issued Labor Advisory No. 3-2021 or the Guidelines on the Administration of the COVID-19 Vaccine in Workplaces, and Labor Advisory No. 8-2021 or the Promotion of COVID-19 Vaccination in the Private Sector.

Section 5 of Republic Act No. 11525 ("RA No. 11525") or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, provides that private entities may procure COVID-19 vaccines by entering into a multi-party agreement with the Department of Health (DOH), National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) and the supplier of the COVID-19 vaccine. The law does not mandate private entities to administer COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace, but if the employers choose to administer COVID-19 vaccines, they should adopt and implement an appropriate vaccination policy in the workplace, in accordance with the law. They may also seek the support of appropriate government agencies in the procurement, storage, transport, deployment and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA No. 11525  ("IRR") state that only COVID-19 vaccines which were procured or donated with a valid Emergency Use Authorization issued by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration shall be distributed and administered by the private entities. The IRR also provides that the COVID-19 vaccines that were procured by the private entities shall not be for sale and shall only be for the exclusive use of the private entities and its employees. In case of donated COVID-19 vaccines, the priority in the inoculation shall be their healthcare workers, senior citizens, economic frontliners and essential workers.

Furthermore, under the said labor advisories, all employees in the private sector are highly encouraged to get inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, except for those who are ineligible or disqualified for health reasons. However, private entities cannot implement a "no vaccine, no work" policy.  Employers shall shoulder the cost of the vaccinations and no cost of vaccination shall be charged against or passed on, directly or indirectly, to the employees. 

Philippines Joins ASEAN CIS Framework

On 11 May 2021, the Philippines became a signatory to the ASEAN Collective Investment Scheme ("CIS") Framework, joining the original member countries: Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. With the Philippines now a member of the CIS Framework, qualified investment companies in the country shall be allowed to offer funds, such as unit trust funds or mutual funds, to retail investors in the other signatory countries in the Southeast Asian bloc, and vice versa. 

This initiative is included in the broader regional capital markets integration plan endorsed by the ASEAN Finance Ministers.  First established in 2014, the CIS Framework aims to streamline the facilitation of cross-border investments, fund distribution as well as the domestic approval of the signatory countries by the harmonisation of the rules and criteria for qualified asset management firms, fund managers and mutual funds.  It also provides for better investment protection that intends to encourage new and diverse prospects in product access and border fund distributions among the member countries.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the Philippines has recently issued draft guidelines on the implementation of the CIS Framework. The draft guidelines state that to be authorised as a CIS, the investment company must be duly incorporated under Republic Act ("RA") No. 2629 or the Investment Company Act, and RA No. 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code in order to issue shares to the public.  Investment companies from the Philippines are proscribed from offering units and shall only be allowed to offer shares cross-border.  

Moreover, foreign CIS constituted in any member jurisdiction may be offered in the Philippines once shown that it is a qualifying CIS and permitted to be offered to the public in the jurisdiction where it originates. 

Ultimately, the initiative’s simplified process of cross-border product access and fund distribution targets the cooperation and connectivity of the countries in the ASEAN region. 

IPOPHL and USPTO Renew IP Cooperation and Partnership

On 5 May 2021, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines ("IPOPHL") signed a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") with the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"), renewing their partnership and strengthening cooperation in intellectual property ("IP") protection and enforcement. The MOU covers different areas of cooperation such as: (i) trainings and capacity building for office administration and human resource development; (ii) awareness-initiatives on the importance of IP in innovation and economic growth; and (iii) information-sharing on IP-related, non-confidential matters and best practices.

With the renewal of the accord, USPTO has committed to (i) designate IPOPHL as a competent international searching authority ("ISA") and preliminary searching authority ("IPEA"); and (ii) provide capacity building in other areas to improve IP rights protection and enforcement, such as in IP awareness, education, valuation, commercialisation, and technology transfer arrangements.  An ISA/IPEA prepares examination reports required under the international application process provided by the Patent Cooperation Treaty. The process involves initial assessments to help applicants assess their chances of being granted international patents. The World Intellectual Property Organization has designated only 23 ISAs/IPEAs to date and only three in Southeast Asia, including IPOPHL.

IPOPHL also recently announced that the US Trade Representative has kept the Philippines off  the Special 301 Watchlist for the past eight years. The Special 301 Watchlist  is an annual review of the global situation which identifies countries which do not provide adequate and effective IP protection and enforcement.  According to IPOPHL Director General Rowel Barba, this exclusion would help the country attract foreign business investments.

COVID-19 Declared as a Compensable Disease

On 6 April 2021, the Employees’ Compensation Commission ("ECC") of the Department of Labor and Employment ("DOLE") issued Board Resolution No. 21-04-14 ("Board Resolution") which declared the inclusion of COVID-19 as one of the listed occupational and work-related diseases. As a result, Filipino workers who contract the COVID-19 virus will receive compensation from the government. According to DOLE Secretary Silvestre Belo III, an employee who has been infected by COVID-19 will receive PhP 30,000, which is higher than the PhP 10,000 compensation generally given on work-related illness.

ECC is a government corporation, considered as an attached agency of DOLE, created to implement the Employees' Compensation Program which allows employees, whether public or private, to receive benefits or compensation in cases of work-connected contingencies including sickness, injury, disability or death. 

The Board Resolution provides that a worker is eligible to receive compensation in any of the following conditions:

  1. There must be a direct connection between the offending agent or event and the worker based on epidemiologic criteria and occupational risk (e.g. healthcare workers, screening and contact tracing team);
  2. The tasks assigned to the worker would require face-to-face and close proximity interactions with the public, or with confirmed cases for health care workers;
  3. Transmission occurred in the workplace; or
  4. Transmission occurred while commuting to and from the workplace.

Claimants need only submit the following to be eligible to receive the compensation:

  1. Certificate of employment from the employer, indicating last day of reporting to work;
  2. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result showing positive result for COVID-19 from any Department of Health-accredited testing facility;
  3. Medical records as appropriate; and
  4. Completed application forms.

Bureau of Immigration Updates International Travel Guidelines

All departing foreign nationals who are issued visas, except holders of tourist visas and Emigration Clearance Certificates from the Bureau of Immigration ("BI"), are required to secure a Travel Pass from the same agency which issued their visas (i.e., BI, Philippine Economic Zone Authority ("PEZA")).

As part of the documentary requirements upon departure, the foreign national shall present his or her Travel Pass, in printed or electronic form, to the immigration counters. A foreign national who fails to present his or her duly issued Travel Pass shall not be permitted to depart, unless confirmed by the focal persons of the visa-issuing agencies.

BI and PEZA have both released their own set of guidelines and requirements involved in applying for a Travel Pass from their office. Both offices require that the documents be submitted at least seven days before the date of departure of the foreign national.

The foregoing guidelines are without prejudice to the exercise of the mandate of BI concerning Arrival and Departure formalities.

Please note that whilst the information in this Update is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief at the time of writing, it is only intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and should not be treated as a substitute for specific professional advice.


Gatmaytan Yap Patacsil Gutierrez
& Protacio (C&G Law)
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Sedeño cor. Valero Streets
Salcedo Village, Makati City 1227


Ben Dominic R Yap
Managing Partner
D +632 8894 0377
F +632 8552 1978

Jaime Renato B Gatmaytan
D +632 8894 0377
F +632 8552 1978

Norma Margarita B Patacsil
D +632 8894 0377
F +632 8552 1978

Anthony Mark A Gutierrez
D +632 8894 0377
F +632 8552 1978

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