The Philippines will open its doors to military equipment manufacturers and plans to set up defense industrial zones, the new head of Philippine Economic Zone Authority said over the weekend.
Newly-appointed Peza director general Charito Plaza said the agency was eyeing to establish several defense industrial parks in strategic areas that were “vulnerable to attacks.”
“We are seeing one in Palawan because it is facing Spratly [Islands], another in Zambales because it is facing Scarborough. We might continue with Olongapo as a shipyard and as [base for] aircraft manufacturing industries,” she said.
“I also suggested to have two in Mindanao. We can modernize the Armed Forces and the police once we have established these parks,” Plaza told reporters at the sidelines of the 7th anniversary of KMC Saville in Makati City.
“Hopefully, these will deter attacks,” she said, adding that the Philippines was now an open market and no longer an exclusive military base of the US.
Plaza said Peza extended open invitations to the world’s defense industries to locate in Philippine defense zones.
She said an ongoing project was the DND Arsenal, a defense industrial complex in Bataan province which was a result of the collaboration between the Defense Department and Peza.
All products manufactured inside the defense industrial parks will be for export, she said.
“But we are also looking at a business agreement that instead of them leasing for land, they can pay us in terms of the equipment we need. For example, within how many years can they supply us, say, of a squadron of military aircraft or a fleet of ships for our navy,” said Plaza, who is a reservist military officer.
She said Peza recently attended a military police forum in Qatar where the participants were defense industries of 86 countries.
“So you see, we have started window shopping already,” she said, adding that the Philippines had a standing offer to the defense industries of Russia, China, Israel and Japan to put up their own armament manufacturing in the Philippines.
Plaza has military background, having served in the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force. She was the first lady general of the AFP reserve force with the rank of brigadier general.
Peza asked the Environment Department, the Philippine Reclamation Authority and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authorit to give an inventory of existing vacant lands, islands, public and private lands that could be used as sites for different kinds of ecozones.
Peza oversess 72 manufacturing economic zones, 234 information technology parks, 21 agro-industrial economic zones, 17 tourism economic zones and 2 medical tourism parks.