The Philippine Economic Zone Authority asked the Office of the President to exempt eight cities in Metro Manila from the moratorium on economic zone proclamation.
Peza director-general Charito Plaza, in a letter submitted to Malacañang on July 1, spoke of the agency’s growing agitation over investors’ worries on finding appropriate hosts for their investments in the country.
“To give other LGUs in Metro Manila the opportunity to host IT companies that will generate employment and improve their fiscal position, we request for the exclusion of the following cities in the coverage of AO 18 moratorium: Manila, San Juan, Marikina, Las Piñas, Malabon, Caloocan, Pateros and Valenzuela,” Plaza said in the letter.
She also asked Malacañang if Peza would be the lead implementor of the AO given its mandate to strengthen economic zones in the countryside. This portion of the AO was unclear as it cited several agencies, including Peza as lead bodies that should promulgate the AO.
Other agencies tasked to provide development and support for ecozones in the countryside are Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
The National Capital Region hosted the highest number of operating IT parks and centers as of June 2019. Of the total 278 operating parks and centers nationwide, 167 are located within the central business districts of Metro Manila with approved investments of P286.35 trillion.
Makati hosts the biggest number of economic zones with IT 45 parks and centers, followed by Quezon City with 35; Pasig, 24; Taguig, 19; Mandaluyong, 18; Muntinlupa, 13; Parañaque, 5; Pasay, 4; and Manila, San Juan, Marikina and Las Piñas with 1 each.
Caloocan, Malabon, Pateros and Valenzuela have yet to host these types of investments. Peza said it wanted the last eight cities with one or zero ecozone to be exempted from the moratorium.
Peza said there were 131 pending applications needing presidential endorsement before they could operate as Peza-registered IT facilities.
AO 18 reduced the processing period of pending applications to three months that negatively impacted on pending applications. With the reduced time needed to comply with documentary requirements, only half of the applications might get the green light, according to Peza deputy director Theo Panga.
The agency reiterated its request to extend the processing period for applications pending at the OP from three months to six months.
Malacañang gave affected IT parks and centers three months to look for alternative sites outside Metro Manila.
President Rodrigo Duterte issued AO 18 on June 17 to stop Peza from accepting, processing or evaluating applications for the creation of ecozones in Metro Manila. The order aims to disperse progress in the countryside.
Peza, however, said some P34.2 billion worth of business process outsourcing and information technology investments put off their plans following the issuance of AO 18.