THE Office of the Executive Secretary has recommended to President Duterte the issuance of presidential proclamation for the setup of 25 new ecozones, according to the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).
PCCI President George T. Barcelon said Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea revealed in a meeting on October 25 that he has assessed and approved the application of 25 ecozones.
The meeting involving the PCCI, Medialdea and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) was held after the annual business conference of the business group. One of the PCCI’s recommendations to the government was to fast-track the approval of the creation of new ecozones.
“The Office of the Executive Secretary called for a meeting regarding this issue [the delay in approving the set up of ecozones]. They explained that the delay is due to the issues they have to address and the requirements under the law,” Barcelon said in a phone interview.
The PCCI said Medialdea had revealed that some 33 pending ecozone proposals lacked “important documentation and requirements,” such as land titles.
Barcelon said the Executive Secretary asked the Peza and the Department of Trade and Industry to undertake due diligence in processing ecozone applications and to work “according to the letter of the law.”
“He requested the Peza and the DTI to coordinate so the proposals can be endorsed. He stressed that the due diligence in complying with requirements is the responsibility of the two agencies and not his office. We’re glad that this has been threshed out and we want to thank the Executive Secretary for responding expeditiously,” Barcelon said.
The Peza earlier said the delay in the establishment of new ecozones could result in the pullout of investment pledges pegged at P500 billion. The amount takes into account not just the cost of ecozone development, but the prospective investments to be brought in by company-locators into these ecozones. Peza Director General Charito B. Plaza had called out Medialdea in previous briefings, saying ecozone developers and the locators they will host are already “impatient.”
The applications that have secured the nod of the Office of the Executive Secretary will be forwarded to the President.
The agency’s founding law, the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995, mandates that proposed ecozones that have been approved by the Peza board still has to wait for a presidential proclamation.
According to the implementing rules and regulations of the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995, the issuance of a presidential proclamation will enable ecozone developers and locator enterprises to qualify for incentives.