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Navotas mayor supports review of ban on new Metro Manila ecozones

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Navotas City Mayor John Rey Tiangco supported appeals to the national government to lift the moratorium on the establishment of economic zones in Metro Manila to spur more economic activity and growth for the entire country.

The Duterte administration issued Administrative Order 18 (AO18), an order for “Accelerating Rural Progress Through Robust Development Of Special Economic Zones In The Countryside”, in June 2019, which effectively imposed a ban on applications for ecozones in the metro until the Office of the President decides lift the moratorium.

“While I understand the rationale behind the moratorium, our country’s competitive landscape, investment priorities and the entire global economic situation has undergone seismic shifts since then,” Tiangco said.

“Consider our case in Navotas, for example. Currently, we have no IT parks or ecozones, despite the conduciveness of our city. This moratorium effectively deprives us of the opportunity to establish such centers, which could serve as hubs for technological innovation, job creation, and economic growth in our area,” he said.

The legislative branch then decided to pass RA 11534, also known as the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act to help business recover from the pandemic, which stated in its implementing rules and regulations that investments in the National Capital Region should be prioritized.

With RA 11534 in place, the legal assumption was that AO 18 was no longer in force, given that administrative or executive acts should be valid only when they are not contrary to existing laws or the Constitution.

Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) director-general Tereso Panga wrote to Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin seeking clarity on the matter, but the Office of the President said the AO18 and its moratorium should be upheld.

Tiangco expressed support for the call of PEZA and other industry groups to lift the moratorium.

“Navotas actually wrote to PEZA in July 2019 to include our city in their request to the Office of the President for exemption from the moratorium,” Tiangco said.

The request for exemption was filed, but there was no further action.

“Lifting the moratorium would give us an opportunity to establish IT centers that would not only provide employment opportunities but also stimulate other economic activities, contributing significantly to our city’s overall development,” he said.

“Hence, I respectfully urge a reconsideration of the moratorium or the implementation of alternative measures to allow ecozone establishment in our city,” he said.


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