The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is asking the mayors of the municipalities adjacent here to help look for areas for possible economic zone expansions and the city to help provide the necessary manpower.
“Lahat ng mga may lupa public or private iniimbitahan naming i apply nila to become an economic zone para ma-utilize at ma-spread natin ang mga industries (We are inviting all landowners, public or private, to apply them to become economic zones and to able to spread the industries),” said PEZA Director General Charito Plaza during the signing of the memorandum of agreement with local government chief executives on Friday.
Plaza said possible economic zones may include the public lands owned by the local government units (LGUs) and the national government, the land of ancestral domain status, military reservation areas, and vacant lots of state colleges and universities.
“We will be able to spread not just the industry but the job and we will attain total development,” she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte issued on June 17, 2019, Administrative Order no. 18 entitled “Accelerating rural progress through robust development of special economic zones in the countryside.”
The AO directs government agencies to provide the needed interventions to strengthen the ecozones and ensure the development of backward and forward linkages of industries in and around the ecozones.
Plaza said the municipalities adjacent the Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay (BLISTT) area can join the 105 LGUs nationwide as host of the economic zones.
Plaza said Benguet has a robust agricultural industry but it is facing a problem on the marketing and sales of its products, which economic zones can address.
Through AO 18, PEZA is gearing toward setting up economic zones that are focused on non-industrial activities, specifically going to agriculture, ecology-agriculture, tourism, agriculture-tourism and others not directly related to industrial activities.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who is also BLISTT chairman, said they will help the neighboring municipalities in opening their own economic zones as Baguio already has been reaping the benefit of being host to the PEZA.
He also said the city cannot anymore expand due to lack of area and congestion.
“It would be impractical for Baguio City to open up economic zones because we are already congested. We will just help our neighbors by attracting investors,” he said.
“By helping other municipalities sustain their growth, it will also help Baguio address problems with traffic, tourist population, and resources as Baguio is already one of the places with the highest population density,” he added.
He said Sablan has plans of opening their own economic zone in a 60-hectare area.
It was already linked with the PEZA but the activity will initially start development on 10 hectares, he said.
Magalong said with the partnership, BLISST and PEZA can work together for the protection of economic zones, by making sure there is no intrusion, and to recover other properties, and to invite more investors. (CLG/PNA)