21 September 2020 (Monday)
Pasay City – Pursuant to Administrative Order (AO) no. 18 signed by President Duterte, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Sagay, Negros Occidental and with the Southern Philippine Development Authority (SPDA) for the creation of more special economic zones (SEZs) especially in the countryside in September 16 and 17, 2020 respectively.
PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza underlined that “Partnerships for building economic zones like this is important especially during this time of pandemic because ecozones are key for generating investments, job, and exports income. Building ecozones viable and suitable for the host community and LGUs is the best and fastest economic masterplan to jumpstart the economy and help the country recover.”
Sagay City Mayor Alfredo Marañon III echoed the PEZA Chief’s statement saying, “The creation of the export processing zone is very timely because everybody is trying to go back to their hometowns under the Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa [program or Executive Order No. 114], which is part of the post-pandemic recovery plan.”
Likewise, SPDA Chairman Hon. Abdulghani “Gerry” A. Salapuddin noted that partnerships such as these will transform the country in totality, and “will achieve the goal of turning Mindanao from a ‘Land of Promise’ to a ‘Land of Fulfillment and Opportunities’.”
Expansion of Northern Negros Agro-Industrial Export Processing Zone
The MOU between PEZA and the City of Sagay gives the green light for both governmental entities for the co-development and promotion of 160-hectare expansion of the Northern Negros Agro-Industrial Export Processing Zone (NNAIEPZ) through a usufruct agreement.
The said expansion is on top of the 20-hectare earlier approved for development by the City Government as concurred by the Office of the President under Presidential Proclamation No. 1622, issued on 15 September 2008.
On 19 February 2020, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Sagay passed Resolution No. 2020-064, which favorably endorsed and authorized PEZA to undertake ecozone development covering 1,600,000 sqm of the land of the City of Sagay. This will then be registered to PEZA as an expansion of the existing NNAIEPZ, subject to the proclamation by the President. The said resolution was formally proposed to the Authority thru a letter in 10 March 2020.
According to Marañon, the creation/expansion of NNAIEPZ supports AO No. 18, which is the national government direction to decongest Metro Manila. AO No. 18 highlights the role of PEZA to spur economic development in the country, especially in the countryside by providing employment opportunities to the locals.
Development of SPDA lands
Meanwhile, the MOU between PEZA and SPDA allows both parties to partner in identifying undeveloped lands in SPDA’s properties as well as developing and creating more special economic zones (SEZs) in the area
Specifically, SPDA’s 24,000-hectare property in the municipalities of Wao and Bumbaran (Amay Manabilang), Lanao Del Sur have been identified as a viable and feasible area for development of agro-industrial ecozones.
Under the PEZA-SPDA MOU, “The Parties shall provide each other the necessary inputs to fast-track the development of, by way of technical assistance, economic zones in priority areas within the SPDA real properties, particularly Wao-Bumbaran, Lanao del Sur or areas not necessarily SPDA’s properties but maybe jointly or severally developed with SPDA’s participation together with the other government units or/and private sector proponents/investors such as Medical Centers/Tourism , Townships, Trade Centers and People Economic Advancement and Community Empowerment (PEACE) Villages among others.”
Salappudin noted that aside from this partnership to create more economic zones in Mindanao, they must initiate a socio-economic framework in the entire of Mindanao so that the whole country will enjoy and experience socio-economic progress.
“I would like to urge our hardworking Director General Plaza to initiate in partnership with MinDA [Mindanao Development Authority] and SPDA the calling of a Mindanao-wide Leaders’ Summit to purposely craft a sustainable, doable, socio-economic framework in Mindanao.
He conveyed that a development masterplan for Mindanao shall be a legacy that “Even after our beloved President [Duterte] will end his term, we have this socio-economic development framework as guide to all the local executives in Mindanao.”
Ecozones as economic drivers
The PEZA Chief believes that “Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, ecozones remain to be drivers for economic growth and a means for recovery in every region. Operation of ecozones will help create jobs for Filipinos and complete the supply chains, building local and global linkages for goods and services.”
According to Plaza, “The creation of ecozones 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.”
She added that, “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 of the long-time four public ecozones located respectively in Cavite, Baguio, Mactan, and Angeles.”
The Director General noted, “we must replicate this in the whole Philippines to attain the total development of the country. We must use this time as an opportunity to grow and develop an export and production-driven economy and a self-reliant, self-sustaining and revenue-generating country, rather than being an import and consumption-dependent, which we are now.”