PEZA SAYS: Convert Mindanao idle lands into ecozones

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    The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is urging the declaration by President Duterte of all idle public lands in Mindanao as ecozones to fuel the growth of the region.

    Charito Plaza, PEZA director-general, enjoined delegates of the Mindanao Ecozone Summit yesterday to lead a petition on the declaration of ecozones , citing the agency’s experience.

    “When PEZA started building five public zones, private landowners followed and developed ecozones,” said Plaza, adding these have been instrumental in industrializing towns and municipalities across the country.

    “We hope we can have a public ecozone in every region, especially in Bangsamoro so it can advance its economy because sadly, it continues to be among the poorest regions,” Plaza said.

    Plaza said Mindanao has to catch up as it has been behind in terms of infrastructure and GDP contribution.

    She added: “The solution is not military, the solution is economic. We can use idle lands for peace and prosperity.”

    Saidamen Pangarungan, secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Fillipinos, acknowledged that the creation of ecozones in Asean has has played vital role in helping economies become developed over the years and in the Philippines, it has brought economic sustainability amidst the pandemic.

    Pangarunan said PEZA has come up with various plans that would encourage Muslim investments, create halal hubs and entice Islamic banks to its ecozones among others.

    PEZA has pledged to promote the development of halal and explore potential of establishing ecozones in Mindanao as a vehicle of economic development of the region. (I. Isip)