PEZA Chief: Creating ecozones in the countryside is best economic driver to grow smart towns, digital cities, and new metropolitan areas for PH regions 

26 August 2020 (Wednesday)

Taguig City – As the country grapples with economic and health problems in its now five-month quarantines due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) underlines the role of ecozones in boosting economic growth and employment for local government units hosting ecozones.

On Wednesday, PEZA Director General Charito “Ching” Plaza has proposed that the best and fastest economic masterplan that national government must promote is to hasten development in the countryside through the creation of economic zones rather than politically restructuring the local government units (LGUs) and regions of the country.

“We have to empower, capacitate, and enrich economically first the LGUs, our farmers, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and our people in general to contribute in enhancing our idle land assets and available rich natural resources,” said Plaza.

The PEZA Chief noted, “We must aim to establish an economy that is production and export-driven rather than forever be an import and consumption-dependent economy.”

She added that, “Strategic planning for creating various types of ecozones has been the trend in our ASEAN counterparts, and it has been proven to be effective. If they can do it, we can as well.”

Ecozones as economic drivers

“Ecozones will be drivers for economic recovery and growth in every region, which will help create jobs for the locals and complete the supply needs in the area. When people have jobs, consumption increases and local production booms. This will in turn boost socio-economic progress as well as reduce crime and poverty incidence in our regions as experienced by LGU hosts,” said the PEZA Chief.

“For 25 years since 1995, PEZA has proven the positive impact of creating economic zones for achieving total development and social progress which can be seen and experienced by the host LGUs like Cavite, Baguio, Mactan, and Angeles,” she added.

Further, the PEZA chief added that “Creation of public ecozone apt to the area benefits host LGUs in terms of industrialization, transfer of technology, land development, creation of jobs which in turn had a multiplier effect in the area.”

“Just like in the case of Cavite, they only had three cities before, and their municipalities were 4th class. Now that it is full of economic zones in Cavite, they now have seven cities, their municipalities are now first-class municipalities or cities. Same with Baguio City and Lapu-Lapu City which also hosts our ecozones, these cities are now highly urbanized areas that are getting a big share from the ecozones and industries’ income,” explained Plaza.

Former Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) President Honorable Al Francis Bichara also backed PEZA’s statement on the importance of ecozones as economic drivers.

“Indeed, the key to unlock the full development potential of the countryside is the enhancement of local competitiveness against the traditional commercial centers – something that has never been attempted by previous administrations – and that the ecozones are the economic driver we have always needed to build boom towns and smart cities where investors are reluctant to re-locate, said Bichara in his letter to the President in October 2019.

More ecozones key economic recovery plan

Complementing the numerous infrastructure projects being developed by the national government under its Build, Build, Build program, Plaza said “Creating more ecozones across the nation will likewise achieve the goal of spreading development and fully industrializing the country amidst the global crisis caused by COVID-19.”

“COVID-19 cannot stop PEZA and LGUs from industrializing our country and being an investment haven in Asia. PEZA stays committed to its 10-point programs that aim: to address the efficiency factors towards attracting and assisting investors; to create a globally competitive, sustainable, and environment-friendly business environment in

our economic zones; and to train and transform Filipino workers into multi-knowledge, multi-skilled, rich human capital and world-class workers.

In the period of January to June 2020, President Duterte signed a total of 12 proclamations for new PEZA-registered ecozones. There are still 63 pending applications for proclamation of new economic zones in the Office of the President. Once officially proclaimed, interested investors will operate with an industrial, commercial, and residential component within these ecozones.

“PEZA is promoting an environment friendly industrialization and the township concept where investors and workers will work, live, learn and play,” noted Plaza