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By Carmencita A. Carillo, Correspondent

Masterplan readied for Mindanao ecozones

Posted on February 04, 2017

DAVAO CITY -- Government agencies, led by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), have signed an agreement to fast-track the Mindanao Ecozone Masterplan, seen as a key strategy for socio-economic development in the country’s south.

“After a series of workshops and consultations, we have finally reached this crucial step in finalizing Mindanao’s very own ecozone masterplan,” said MinDA Chairperson Datu HJ. Abul Khayr Dangcal Alonto during the opening of the two-day Mindanao Ecozone Summit on Thursday.

“MinDA sees ecozone development as an imperative measure that will bolster inclusive socioeconomic growth in the region,” he added.

Mindanao has 81 accredited economic zones covering agro-industry, manufacturing, information technology and tourism.

The agreement aims to bring about a holistic approach in developing existing and new ecozones, including those being planned for islands around the Mindanao mainland.

Mr. Alonto said ecozones are expected to increase trading activities, attract more foreign direct investments in the countryside, and create employment opportunities for the local labor force.

“One of Mindanao’s strengths is its people and our human resources are now ready and capable for the entry of these opportunities,” he said.

PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza, for her part, said their aim is to push the Philippines as a major distribution hub for all industries through the ecozones.

“We are embarking on building economic zones in every city, especially now that we have successfully negotiated with some of the big businessmen in the Middle East, including those from royal families who are very excited about investing in Mindanao’s economic zones,” Ms. Plaza said.

The PEZA head said they are also conducting an inventory of islands, such as Tawi-Tawi under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, that could be developed as ecozone cities.

“We are conducting an inventory because we want to build cities in these islands,” she said.

Special incentives are given to locators in ecozones as provided under Philippine law.