A HOUSE joint committee has approved “in principle” a bill seeking to create a special economic zone and freeport comprising various towns in Bulacan in the vicinity of the new airport that is due to rise in the province. 

Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda, who wrote the bill that will be the basis for the consolidated legislation, said that fiscal incentives will be compliant with the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law and other such laws. “No new tax incentives are created, and no power to grant incentives is given to the Ecozone Authority,” he told the joint committee.

The ecozone will encompass the municipality of Bulakan, the Airport Project and Airport City Project, as well as the towns of Meycauayan, Malolos, Paombong, Guiguinto, Balagtas, Bocaue, Marilao, Sta. Maria, and Obando.

The Bulacan ecozone will be subject to audit under the GOCC Governance Act of 2011, according to the bill. State auditors may also appoint a full-time auditor in the ecozone.

The bill tasks the Bulacan ecozone with addressing the province’s flooding problems by undertaking “water supply and storage, sewerage and drainage” projects.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. vetoed a previous version of the ecozone bill in July 2022, in one of his first acts in office.

The committee is currently fine-tuning the substitute bill before it is sent on for plenary approval. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz