THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) is eyeing to transform several economic zones into defense industrial complexes that will allow the country to produce military equipment and weapons on its own.
In a statement on Monday, Peza Director General Charito B. Plaza said the agency is putting in efforts to fully industrialize the Philippines with the creation of new economic zones. These new economic zones will include defense industrial complex, to be established among the potential economic zones of the military’s reservation areas.
According to Plaza, the defense industrial complex will allow the country to manufacture its own military and defense equipment, as well as weaponry.
“They can start inviting defense industries whose products are what the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] wanted to equip and modernize,” Plaza said.
“Creating a defense industrial ecozone will not just modernize the country and the defense forces, but will also create jobs and put to use the long…idle military reservation areas. Because of our strategic location, we can also make the Philippines the manufacturing hub of defense and other industries in the region,” she added.
In accomplishing such a plan, Plaza said it is but necessary for the Peza and the AFP to come up with a memorandum of agreement to clear the regulatory powers of the two agencies for the proposed creation of a defense industrial complex.
She argued the agreement will make sure the Peza and the AFP understand the implications of putting up a defense economic zone to national security, military posture and strategies once defense related firms start coming in.
The Peza chief said the agency is working double time in turning economic zone workers into military reservists.
The Peza, at present, is implementing a special basic citizens military training for economic zone workers, which they can use in times of man-made and natural disasters.
“Peza’s unique structure with 404 operating economic zones and 4,478 locator companies, once trained, will provide 1.5 million directly, and 7 million indirectly employed reservist manpower,” Plaza said, noting that this is “more than enough for the 80 percent component of the AFP.”
Plaza is proposing to President Duterte the issuance of an administrative order institutionalizing the participation of all government agencies, departments, bureaus, government-owned and -controlled corporations, and economic zone authorities to become AFP reservist units. This will also entail the creation of a fund for the education, training, uniforms and equipage of the reservists.
“Everything included in the proposed AO are already existing; we just need to enhance it,” Plaza said.