ECOZONES. Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General Charito Plaza delivers a speech during a ceremony for the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at the PEZA headquarters in Pasay City on Tuesday (May 31, 2022). The PEZA and DENR will identify idle lands across the country that can be converted into economic zones. (Screenshot from PEZA YouTube channel)

MANILA – The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Tuesday that will help the former to identify idle lands across the country that can be developed into economic zones.

In her speech during the signing ceremony, PEZA Director General Charito Plaza said the partnership with the DENR aims to identify viable timberlands, agricultural lands, mining lands, and natural tourism sites that can be utilized as ecozones such as agro-industrial, agro-forestry, mineral processing ecozones, oil depots, and eco-tourism special economic zones nationwide.

“Creating different types of ecozone is the program of PEZA so we can protect the environment and locate the appropriate industries and enhance the responsible use of the land and its natural resources. This is PEZA’s way of fully industrializing the country yet protecting, not destroying, our environment,” Plaza said.

Plaza added that converting idle lands into ecozones is aligned with the goal of Administrative Order 18 issued by the Malacañang Palace in 2019, which supports rural progress through ecozone development in the countryside.

“This MOU signing will serve as an initial and broad framework of understanding between PEZA and the DENR towards the goal of identifying public lands nationwide that can be harnessed in a sustainable and environmentally-compliant manner, to spread ecozones because they are drivers of economic growth outside the National Capital Region (NCR),” she added.

The PEZA and DENR identified the Caraga Region as the pilot area of their partnership.

“As the country transition to the Presidency of President-elect Bongbong Marcos Jr., we in PEZA are positive about the economic outlook under the new President and we continue with our mandate of attracting investments and generating exports and jobs,” Plaza said.

Currently, there are 416 PEZA ecozones nationwide, of which, 105 ecozones are newly proclaimed.

There are 3,557 locators inside these ecozones, investing a total of PHP4.036 trillion since the PEZA’s inception in 1995. (PNA)