MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. wants to develop more economic zones in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), a Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) official said.

PEZA deputy director general Aleem Siddiqui Guiapal told the Philippine News Agency that Marcos sees ecozone development as a catalyst for growth in the BARMM.

“(There is a) vast land here, and there are proposed ecozones from Cotabato City, Lamitan, Isabela City and Tawi-Tawi,” Guiapal said in a Viber message.

The region currently has one economic zone, which is the Polloc Freeport and Economic Zone (PFEZ) in Maguindanao.

Guiapal said among the economic activities viable in BARMM include manufacturing, agro-industry and halal hub.

He said developing the agro-industry in BARMM could help in achieving food security in the country.

Guiapal graced the first multi-sectoral forum for the development of PFEZ in Cotabato City on Tuesday.

For the past 27 years, PEZA has been contributing to the economic growth of the country.

Investments in PEZA zones already amounted to PHP4.076 trillion, creating 1.8 million jobs across the country.

PEZA ecozones grew to 421 composed of 300 information technology (IT) parks and centers, 78 manufacturing ecozones, 23 agro-industrial parks, 17 tourism ecozones and three medical tourism zones.

In 2021 alone, PEZA shared 16 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) while 80 percent of total exports last year were from PEZA zones. (PNA)