ILOILO CITY -- Iloilo province is pushing to develop its four towns and one component city as economic zones.

Velma Lao, head of the Local Economic and Investment Promotions Offices (LEIPOs) in Iloilo, named the towns being considered as Miag-ao, Dumangas, Leganes, Concepion and Passi City.

They are targeting to set up one or two economic zones in the province before the end of this year or early next year, said Lao in an interview on Thursday.

No less than Brig. Gen. Charito B. Plaza, Director General of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), conducted a briefing among the local government units and their local chief executives of these five possible sites for economic zone development to discuss how they will process their registration and how they will be accredited by PEZA, Lao added.

“The governor (Arthur Defensor Sr.) is looking really at addressing unemployment so we need jobs and one of the major generators of job is really putting up an economic zone,” she said.

Lao said they are expecting the LGUs to be able to take action and register their identified sites for economic zone after the briefing. She assured these LGUs that they will be provided technical assistance for the registration process.

In fact, they are now planning to start with marketing among investors the identified sites, she said.

She added the development of economic zones might be done through a public private partnership.

Lao recalled that it was September last year when the provincial government inked a memorandum of agreement with Iloilo Economic Zone Development Foundation and Palm Concepcion Power Corporation (PCPC) to development economic zones in Iloilo.

The 42 towns and one component city of the province were asked for intent to identify possible sites for economic zone in their area but only 16 responded.

Lao said these 16 LGUs were shortlisted to 10 until they further came up with only five based on the criteria they set such as the availability of the area, infrastructure and roads present in the area. (PNA)