PEZA strengthens partnership with Mindanao leaders, pushes for more ecozones in the countryside
16 February 2021 (Tuesday)
Davao City – The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has come together with Mindanaoan leaders and national government officials to strengthen its partnership and further develop Mindanao during the Mindanao Speaks Up summit, which was held on Wednesday, 10 February in Ritz Hotel, Davao City.
Initiated by PEZA Director General Charito “Ching” Plaza, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) Administrator Abdulghani Ajul Salapuddin, the Mindanao Speaks Up forum seeks to address the long-delayed and other vital infrastructure projects especially for Mindanao as President Rodrigo Roa Duterte comes to his last 18 months in office.
“It is our dream to attain a stronger inclusive growth for the Philippines; to transform the country into a self-reliant, self-sustaining, and resource-generating investment haven. In order to achieve that, no one must be left behind. Thus, we need to help our President to fulfill his dreams and promises and make Mindanao the ‘Land of Fulfillment’,” said Plaza.
Creation of more ecozones in Mindanao
As MinDA Secretary Piñol and SPDA Administrator Salapuddin push for increased budget allocation for Mindanao in the 2022 budget, the PEZA Chief urged Mindanaon leaders in LGUs and national offices as well as those in Congress to file a resolution asking the President to declare idle public lands in the country’s south as areas for the development of special economic zones.
“The Mindanaoan leaders will be passing a resolution to the President so we could have the opportunity to trigger economic growth, creation of jobs, develop the countryside. Let’s proclaim public lands in every region to become public economic zones so we can contribute to the total development, in peace and prosperity of the country,” said Director General Plaza.
This urge is in line with the President’s Administrative Order (AO) No. 18 which seeks to promote rural development, ensure inclusive growth in the countryside, and create robust economic activity and wealth generation in areas outside of Metro Manila.
The PEZA Chief believes that the creation of more economic zones is the best and fastest economic masterplan that national government must promote.
“Ecozones will be drivers for economic recovery and growth in every region, which will help create jobs for the locals, complete the supply needs in the area, and make enterprises participate in the global supply chain. This will in turn spur socio-economic progress as well as reduce crime and poverty incidence in our regions,” explained the Plaza.
There are currently 37 ecozones in Mindanao, with 17 in Davao, 10 in Northern Mindanao, eight in Soccsksargen, and one each in Zamboanga and Caraga. Of these, 12 are agro-industrial, 15 IT parks, eight manufacturing, and one tourism.
The PEZA Chief added, “We are determined to help leave a legacy for our people in Mindanao and help realize the plans and programs of our beloved President especially in Mindanao that is full of potentials in human capital, natural resources, and available idle lands.”
Hearing the concerns of all parties, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri had assured legislative support for next year’s budget and other resolutions put forward at the multi-stakeholder gathering.
“We still have time for these projects to be inserted to our General Appropriations Act so let’s work together to make sure that these projects don’t remain promises or blueprints… Just tell us what you need, my dear friends in MinDA, from the national budget, so we can push these initiatives and move this forward,” said Senator Zubiri.
He added, “We have a few Mindanaoans in the Senate: Senator [Aquilino] Pimentel, Senator [Christopher Lawrence] Go, Senator [Ronald] Dela Rosa, Senator [Emmanuel] Pacquiao as well as yours truly. We are all open to hearing from you and are always ready and willing to help our beloved Mindanao.”