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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Solon seeks ecozone for Camarines Sur

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Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte on Thursday pressed the creation of a special economic zone (SEZ) in his province, which he said has been recognized as the country’s most business-friendly province for three consecutive years and was considered one of the economic performers.

Villafuerte assured the House Committees on Economic Affairs and the Committee on trade and Industry during their recent joint hearing that his proposed SEZ was envisioned to be the “center of development” in the Bicol region.

He added that Camarines Sur has “all that it takes to become a major investment hub, given that its ideal features meet the standards of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) for ecozones.” 

In creating jobs in Camarines Sur and the rest of Bicol, Villafuerte said the establishment of the proposed special ecozone would not only boost the region’s growth and development, but would also encourage Bicolanos to stay put in their home-provinces instead of flocking to Metro Manila—thereby helping the national government attain its twin goals of decongesting the National Capital Region (NCR) and stimulating growth in the countryside.

“There are already existing infrastructure in broadband connectivity, road network, water facilities and standby power supply” at the Provincial Capitol Complex in the capital town of Pili, where the proposed ecozone will be headquartered, said Villafuerte at the recent joint hearing that tackled this proposal for a new ecozone, as contained in House Bill (HB) 3681.

Villafuerte, National Unity Party president said at the joint hearing that he had supported all proposed legislations in the past on the creation of SEZs in various provinces, on the belief that such ecozones, once established, would boost growth and generate jobs, especially outside Metro Manila.

HB 3681, which seeks the establishment of an SEZ at the Provincial Capitol Complex and covering Pili and the municipality of Milaor, was authored by Villafuerte along with CamSur Reps. Miguel Luis Villafuerte and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata plus the Bicol Saro partylist.

“Our  proposed CamSur Ecozone is expected to  overcome all the difficulties faced by other areas that had previously sought SEZ declaration,” Villafuerte said. “It is worth mentioning that CamSur already has two operational and successful economic zones in place that have created jobs, generated income, attracted investments and engendered technology transfer for our province,” he said.

“This gives CamSur a significant advantage over other applicants for SEZs as our proposed ecozone’s profitability is already established. Moreover, the proposed CamSur Special Ecozone meets all the requisites for the establishment of economic zones, under Section 6 of Republic Act (RA) No. 7916 or the PEZA  Law, as amended by RA 8748 or the SEZ (Special Economic Zone) Act.,” he said.

These requisites for a provincial ecozone include, he said, a strategic location, existence of other ecozones in the area, good accessibility via air and land transport,  availability of developed and vacant lands for the investors’ buildings and facilities plus their workers’ housing projects, and the presence of a knowledge and innovation industry as well as a ready pool of skilled, semi-skilled and non-skilled trainable labor force.

The capital town of Pili is in CamSur’s third district, which Miguel Luis Villafuerte represents in the House; and Milaor is in the second district, which LRay Villafuerte represents.

Both Villafuertes had served as three-term provincial governor before being elected to the House.

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