Pacquiao bats for creation of ecozone in Sarangani

Pacquiao bats for creation of ecozone in Sarangani
File photo shows a beach in Sarangani, the southern most province in the mainland of Mindanao.
The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Manny Pacquiao wants to establish a special economic zone and freeport in Sarangani.

Pacquiao, who used to represent the province in the lower chamber before winning a Senate seat in the 2016 elections, on Wednesday filed Senate Bill No. 1957, or the Sarangani Special Economic Zone and Freeport Act.

Ecozones are areas where tax holidays and other fiscal perks are offered to investors to incentivize them to relocate in the Philippines.

"Sarangani’s favorable investment climate is evidenced by a number of agro-industrial investments manifested by the presence of high value crop production, industrial crops and tree plantations of mango, banana, pineapple, and asparagus," Pacquiao said in an explanatory note for the proposed measure.

"The province’s aqua-marine sector is likewise flourishing with its abundant commercial fishponds, high value fin fishes production and processing, and deep sea fishing, accompanied by vibrant support services,. Livestock production and processing, manufacturing and processing trade, support and allied services, as well as tourism development are also thriving in the province," he added.

Citing the Bureau of Local Government Finance, Pacquiao noted that Sarangani's annual regular revenue for the fiscal year of 2016 was at P945.63 million.

"The municipality of Alabel, in particular, is a home of the corporation producing the world-renowned Sarangani Bay Prime Bangus (milkfish). Its long stretch of coastline allows the municipality’s aquaculture venture to prosper while its vast lands make it ideal for the expansion of agro-industrial opportunities, eco-tourism as well as upscale and mass housing," he said, referring to Alson's Aquaculture Corp.

Pacquaio's bill seeks to establish the ecozone particularly in the municipalities of Alabel and Glan.

"Not only will this measure increase foreign investments and encourage economic growth in the area, the establishment of the ECOZONE therein will guarantee the decrease, if not eradicate, the underemployment and unemployment rate in the province, thereby uplifting the living condition of the residents," he said.

In July, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority approved 10 new economic zones in a bid to lure in investors believed to be key to the country’s economic revival from the pandemic.

— Bella Perez-Rubio with a report from Ian Cigaral

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