PASAY CITY – Strengthening their collaborative efforts in ecozone development initiatives, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officially sealed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the establishment of economic zones in the country on Tuesday, 30 January 2024.
PEZA Director General Tereso O. Panga said, “We anticipate that this initiative will not only create more employment opportunities for Filipinos but also significantly contribute to addressing food security and sufficiency, decent and affordable housing and new urbanism—aligning with the Marcos administration’s objectives and ultimately propel the Philippines towards upper middle-income economy status, where no Filipino is left behind.”
Echoing this, BuCor Director General Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr. expressed the significance of a whole-of-government approach towards propelling the Philippines as an investment hub.
“Ang lakas po ng gobyerno pagnagsamasama, talagang maiaahon natin ang ating kahirapan at mapoposisyon natin ang ating bansa. We will be a strong nation in the 21st century and we want to be part of it. We want to be part of PEZA in its quest to open up our economy for foreign direct investors and we will make it succeed,” stated Gen. Catapang.
The Department of Justice also expressed full support for the partnership. Undersecretary Deo L. Marco said, “This agreement is a manifestation of this administration’s objective of realizing the immense potential of our country’s resources and our government’s capacity to further advance and develop our economic position.”
Under the MOU, both parties shall collaborate in attracting foreign direct investments and in creating economic opportunities by establishing economic zones registered through PEZA in the lands under the jurisdiction of BuCor.
Usec Marco stated, “It’s a practical approach for implementing the policies of maximizing land use development for the sustainability of the BuCor through the PEZA’s expertise in administering economic zones.”
Accordingly, these ecozones would be ideal for hosting various sectors and entire supply chains, particularly those focused on innovation, digital transformation, and sustainability.
DG Panga explained, “Emerging industries like electric vehicle production, advanced manufacturing, green ores processing, nano tech, knowledge-based and AI-driven industries, medical-related industries, and blue industries will find a conducive environment within this eco-industrial township.”
Gen. Catapang also noted that this project will provide various opportunities not only for the host LGU and region but most especially employment for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), which is a priority for the BuCor.
Iwahig Mega Ecozone
For its first venture, PEZA and BuCor seek to transform 25,000 hectares of the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa, Palawan to become an eco-industrial township with a self-sustaining community.
The PEZA Chief said, “There are already investors who expressed serious intent in bringing in their operations in this mega ecozone. Knowing this and now with our signed MOU, we can already start land mapping and subzoning to better plan for the establishment of this zone and we hope to accomplish this by the term of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.”
He also assured everyone that “PEZA will not take any shortcuts and will facilitate dialogue with experts, industry leaders, environmental advocates, and communities, guided by the principles of carbon footprint reduction, environmental protection, and shared prosperity for all.”
“With like-minded partners such as the DOJ and BuCor, we are a step closer to achieving our common goal of eco-zoning the Philippines, and in bringing back the dignity of man, towards inclusive and sustainable development,” stated DG Panga.