THE PHILIPPINE Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) approved this month P13.19 billion in investment pledges, which are expected to create 2,447 jobs.

In a statement, the investment promotion agency said it gave the go signal for 33 projects in its March 11 meeting. Among these, 29 will be in Luzon while four will be in Visayas and Mindanao, PEZA said in a press release on Thursday.

Among the registered enterprises, 12 are export-oriented projects, while 11 are in information technology. Five are for facilities and one is in logistics and utilities. Three of the approved projects are economic zone developers or locators.

The newest approved projects bring PEZA’s total to P24.5 billion for 2021 so far.

PEZA greenlit P11.308 billion in investment pledges in January, or 139% higher than the P4.726 billion in the same month last year.

To recall, the agency approved P16.5 billion in investments in the first quarter of 2020. This was 28% lower than the 2019 figure after the board failed to meet after the strict lockdown started in mid-March.

PEZA is aiming to reach over P100 billion in investment pledges this year, higher than last year’s P95 billion. Last year’s figure dropped more than 19% compared with investments approved in 2019.

PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza recently said that the board approved an Israeli-Filipino firm’s plan to manufacture coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) oral vaccines in the Philippines. The agency has yet to release details on the name of the company and the size of the investment.

Philippine-based manufacturing will be the Asia-Pacific hub for the pharmaceutical company, she said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

She also said that PEZA is considering new economic zones farther from danger zones amid the alert over the Taal Volcano in Batangas. Lima Technology Center and the First Philippine Industrial Park are both in Batangas, but are farther than the 20-kilometer radius from the volcano.

Ms. Plaza said in the statement that the agency continued to run its one-stop-shop operations amid the pandemic.

“The approval of new projects and investments is the agency’s positive action to continuously support the Philippine economy in our endeavor to maintain our competitiveness for investments despite the impact of COVID-19,” she said.

The Board of Investments, which accounts for the bulk of planned projects registered with investment promotion agencies, has approved P121.9 billion in investment pledges in the first two months of 2021, which is 156% higher than the same period last year. — Jenina P. Ibañez