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PEZA, NCIP strengthen partnership to empower IPs to become ecozone developers/operators, promote social justice

Monday, June 6, 2022

Pasay City – Pursuant to the goals of Administrative Order No. 18, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) last June 03, 2022 to solidify its cooperation about the utilization of the ancestral domains and lands to become economic zones, in compliance with the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997 and the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process.

Under the agreement, PEZA Director General Charito ‘Ching’ Plaza and NCIP Chairman Allen Capuyan have forged partnership for the identification of ancestral domains/lands that are potential to be developed as special economic zones (SEZs) to boost economic productivity of ancestral lands, generate investments, exports, and jobs that shall be beneficial for Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) and Indigenous Peoples (IPs).


PEZA Director General Charito Plaza and NCIP Chairman Allen Capuyan have signed the Memorandum of Agreement with Deputy Director General Atty. Norma Tañag, Deputy Director General Tereso Panga, and NCIP Executive Director Rogelio Bantayan Jr. standing as witnesses


For its part, Director General Plaza assured that, “PEZA, as the only authorized agency to register land and buildings to become economic zones, will remain steadfast in our plans to create different types of green, sustainable and smart ecozones and attract various industries facilitating environment-friendly industrialization.”

Meanwhile, Chairman Capuyan noted that “The development of the ancestral domains as a special economic zone will not just give positive look to the socio-economic aspect of the communities but also increase the basic services as well as sufficient food, education, health, environmental protection, justice, human rights, security, and good governance.”


Drivers for economic growth and development

Through the years, PEZA’s 417 ecozones have greatly provided benefits in the facilitation of growth and development especially in the host LGUs.

“We aim to replicate the multiplier effects that our zones created in the regions because we believe that ecozones will serve as economic drivers among ICCs/IPs,” said the PEZA Chief.

“Through our ecozone program, we shall encourage the completion of the supply chain to make the country a production, manufacturing, and export-driven economy. In effect, this will make us more attractive to investors as it will lower the cost of doing business and attain inclusive growth and development,” she added.

Further, Plaza noted that “With this, we must unite in providing social justice to our ICCs/IPs and give them chance to utilize their ancestral lands by developing it into economic zones that can host investors from various industries which provide jobs and livelihood in the ancestral domain areas.”


PEZA advocates social justice for IPs

“For decades, the IPs have become victims of exploitation with the utilization of their ancestral domains and lands by some unscrupulous entities without just and fair compensation or due regard to their traditional territorial and resource rights,” Plaza noted.

With this, the PEZA Chief suggested that “We should empower and capacitate all sectors of the country most especially the so-called marginalized like the IPs to participate in an inclusive economy so we can bring out the best of our countries’ potentials and vibrant economy.”

Director General Plaza explained, “We in PEZA give utmost respect to IP rights on their ancestral lands. Hence, we respect compliance to IPRA law and social justice when ancestral lands will be tapped for ecozone development. Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) must provide just compensation to IP communities when their lands are subject to ecozone developments, moreso they should be partners in economic endeavors in their ancestral lands.”


Hopeful for the future

As both parties collaborate in this project, everyone is hopeful for the future that will alleviate the socio-economic status of our regions and most especially the ICCs/IPs.

“I hope that the MOA signing will be the start for us to operationalize and implement commitments of both parties that will develop our ancestral domains at lalong lalo na po yung kabutihan ng ating mga katutubong Pilipino,” noted NCIP OSSEC Oversight Commissioner Gaspar Cayat.

Further, Chairman Capuyan stated that “It is my fervent prayer that this will bring the socio-economic development in the ancestral domain to greater heights and realize the aspiration and dreams of the ICCs/IPs for a better future.”

“Thank you for sharing the similar enthusiasm that we can make the country not just progressive but peaceful. It’s high time now that economic zones should be owned completely and the fruits of our ecozones will also be enjoyed by the IPs themselves,” said Plaza.

This partnership is in line with the PEZA Transformation Road Map which seeks to address the lacking efficiency factors that investors are looking and to create different types of economic zones according to the land potentials present in the area.

Aside from this collaboration, PEZA also signed on May 31, 2022 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to identify and develop ecozones in the regions using the unutilized public lands under DENR’s jurisdiction and provide investor-locator choices of location nationwide. #