BAGUIO CITY – The State-owned Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the local government will be working with concerned government agencies and the indigenous peoples (IPs) in the city on how to clear the zone’s 69-hectare property covered by a Presidential Proclamation from informal settlers to pave the way for the expansion of the Baguio City Economic Zone (BCEZ).
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said that the local government will start the social preparation in the affected property to ascertain the number of residents that will be affected and ascertain the appropriate solutions that will address the current problem of occupied areas within PEZA’s property in the city.
He added that the city will also try to look into the possibility that there were some claimants of the property who were able to sell parts of the land owned by the zone and covered by a valid presidential issuance.
Earlier, PEZA Director-General Charito Plaza called on the local government to assist the zone administration in clearing portions of its property that had been occupied by informal settlers to allow the expansion of existing locators and accommodate more companies that have signified their intention to invest in the BCEZ.
According to her, the 33 locators and 53 service companies currently operating in the BCEZ occupy only 28 hectares of its proclaimed property considering that the more than 30 hectares of the same had already been occupied by informal settlers that impede the possible implementation of expansion projects by existing locators and for PEZA to accommodate the operation of other companies interested to operate in the area.
The PEZA official pointed out that zone officers are willing to sit down with the local government, concerned government agencies and even IPs with legitimate domain titles to craft possible solutions that will result to the possible relocation of the informal settlers to a public property or the tapping of the IPs as PEZA’s partner in attracting more investors in the zone where the IPs will be the private developer of the economic zone that will be applied with the government regulator.
She disclosed that PEZA was successful in partnering with the IPs in Agusan del Sur that caused the establishment of the economic zone within their ancestral domain and that the IPs are now earning substantial income from the operation of locators considering the influx of companies that are interested to operate in established economic zones for the same to be able to avail of the privileges and incentives granted to locators within economic zones.
Plaza asserted that if PEZA was successful in tapping the IPs to be PEZA’s partner in the establishment of economic zones in Mindanao, then it will also be possible for PEZA to partner with the Ibalois, who are the original claimants of portions of the BCEZ, to facilitate the possible expansion of the existing zone that will attract the influx of more locators as there are many companies that have signified to operate in the city but the absence of adequate land area within the zone is hampering the eventual operation of the said companies that will open job opportunities for local residents, added revenue to the national and local governments, increase in the sources of livelihood of the people and spur economic growth within the area among others.
By Dexter A. See