MinDA board backs proposal creating Southern Palawan ecozone, free port authority

DAVAO CITY – A proposed bill creating Southern Palawan Special Economic Zone and Free Port Authority gets an endorsement from the
Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Board during the 2nd MinDA Board Meeting held here last March 31.

House Bill 4363 seeks for the creation the Southern Palawan Special Economic Zone and Free Port (SPSEZ) as well as a body corporate or an
Authority to administer its operations, appropriating the funds thereof and for other purposes.

The bill offers  a package  of  fiscal  and  non-fiscal  incentives to  attract  prospective foreign  and  local  investors in order to fully  maximize the  development potentials of the  province and the region as well.

Sec. Luwalhati Antonino, chairperson of the MinDA board, said that Palawan has been underscored as a growth hub in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and considered as one of the sub-region’s development priority areas.

“As part of the EAGA focus areas, Southern Palawan holds viable potentials for increased trade with the ASEAN countries,” Sec. Antonino said.

Rep. Ma. Rachel Arenas, chair of the House Committee on BIMP-EAGA affairs and author of the bill, said that they are looking at the municipality of Brooke’s Point as the initial development area of the proposed ecozone.

Brooke’s Point’s strategic location provides an effective hub for trade and investment with neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.

Palawan’s proximity to Sabah is key to its participation in the EAGA. Brooke’s Point is closer to Kudat, Sabah, with a distance of only 125 nautical miles or 232 km, than to Manila and Cebu.

“There are neighbouring municipalities that could later link up with Brooke’s Point and would enjoy the same benefits of the port,” Arenas
said while highlighting the proposed ecozone and freeport’s contributions to promoting tourism and employment in the region as well as in increasing the government’s revenue generation.

Filed last March 9, the bill is governed by the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995 (RA 7916), which identifies Palawan as one of the possible
locations for a special economic zone in Mindanao, and the Omnibus Investments Code of 1987 (EO 226), which provides incentives for
pioneer industry.

Arenas said that once the bill is passed into law, the improvement and conversion of the existing port in Brooke’s Point into an Ecozone and Freeport will lay the groundwork for encouraging increased capital investments for progress and development.

To date, the bill has already been filed for primary referral in the Committee on Economic Affairs and for secondary referral in the Committee on Trade and Industry. MinDA

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