DAVAO CITY — Compostela Valley province and Sibutu, Tawi-Tawi are among the ideal areas for new economic zones in Mindanao, according to Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corp. (PHIVIDEC) Industrial Authority Administrator Franklin M. Quijano.

Speaking at a forum here, Mr. Quijano said Compostela Valley, with its rich gold and silver resources, should have processing plants within ecozones that would increase the value and contribution of the raw minerals to the economy.

“When that happens, even if you offer incentives to locators, there are some blessings attached to it like employment, increase in sales, higher disposable income when you have industrialization in the countryside. Nowadays, ecozone as a concept is sometimes focused on developed areas like Metro Manila,” he said.

Compostela Valley’s name change to Davao de Oro, which has been signed into law, will require a plebiscite.

Sibutu, he said, would be suitable as a freeport due to its strategic location between the southern Philippines and Borneo.

“Instead of considering that a contested area, you have to consider identifying it as a freeport ecozone because that is only 15 minutes away from Sabah (Malaysia). It really has potential. Sibutu Strait is the only path from the China Sea to Australia,” he said.

The government is preparing to file a diplomatic protest over recent sightings of Chinese warships passing through the Sibutu Strait without informing Philippine authorities.

Mr. Quijano said local government units must play a more active role in pushing for the development of ecozones in their areas, especially with the issuance in June of the President’s Administrative Order No. 18, intended to accelerate rural progress through ecozones.

Mr. Quijano said bringing industrialization in the countryside will be among the topics during the First Philippine Industrial Summit in Mindanao on Nov. 26-27 in Cagayan de Oro City.

PHIVIDEC, a government-owned and controlled corporation, manages the 3,000-hectare PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate in Misamis Oriental. — Maya M. Padillo