PBBM okays processing of NCR ecozone applications with PEZA clearance

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

December 2, 2023, 9:33 am

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has granted a second chance to applicants with “Pre-Qualification Clearances” from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to create new economic zones in Metro Manila.

Marcos signed Administrative Order (AO) 11 on Nov. 24, amending AO 18 issued in 2019, which imposes a moratorium on the processing and evaluation of applications for the establishment of special economic zones in Metro Manila.

AO 18 issued by former president Rodrigo Duterte orders PEZA to no longer accept, process, or evaluate applications for the creation of Metro Manila ecozones “to promote rural development, ensure inclusive growth in the countryside, and create robust economic activity and wealth generation” in areas outside the country’s metropolis.

Under AO 11, which was made public on Saturday, applications that have already obtained “Pre-Qualification Clearances” from the PEZA Board under the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 7916 before the moratorium's effectivity under AO 18 should be allowed to resubmit their application with certain conditions.

“Within a non-extendible period of ten (10) working days from the effectivity of this Order, the PEZA shall submit to the Office of the President (OP), through the Office of the Executive Secretary, a Board Resolution certifying the Masterlist of covered applications under the immediately preceding paragraph,” the new AO read.

“For this purpose, the PEZA shall submit, along with the said Board Resolution and Masterlist, certified true copies of the pertinent Pre-Qualification Clearances issued by the PEZA Board to the developers/proiect proponents concerned and the minutes of the meeting when the same were approved by the Board.”

AO 11 emphasizes that only those included in the Masterlist will have the option to resubmit their applications for ecozones, provided they undergo anew the pre-qualification process of the PEZA under the IRR of RA 7916.

According to Marcos’ AO, all required national or local licenses, clearances, permits, certifications, or authorizations that have already expired need to be renewed, under pertinent laws, rules, and regulations.

“The Inclusion in the Masterlist or the acceptance, processing, and/or evaluation of applications by PEZA and thereafter, by the OP, shall by no means constitute as a guarantee that such applications shall be approved and subsequently proclaimed as ecozones,” AO 11 stated.

AO 11 clarifies that other provisions of AO 18 will remain in effect, including the moratorium on the processing of applications for the establishment of economic zones in Metro Manila.

The new AO was issued to bolster employment in Metro Manila and position it as the “leading information and communications technology hub” in the country.

“Allowing the processing and evaluation of applications for ecozones in Metro Manila that have been successfully issued a Pre-Qualification Clearance by the PEZA Board prior to the implementation of the moratorium under AO No. 18 will have a positive impact on job creation and will further strengthen Metro Manila’s position as a leading information and communications technology hub in the country,” the order read.

Based on the government’s recent assessment, the services sector, which includes information and communications, continues to be a reliable source of economic activity in the country, with Metro Manila registering the biggest share.

The Marcos administration’s 8-Point Socioeconomic agenda aims to bolster employment opportunities for the Filipino people through the promotion of investments that boost productivity.

AO 11 takes effect immediately after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation. (PNA)