PEZA to tackle ecozone applications soon

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) board will meet soon to discuss pending ecozone developer and locator applications.

“As applications with PEZA continue to pile up on top of the pending ecozone developer and locator applications, we are now preparing for the next PEZA Board meeting,” said PEZA Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Tereso O. Panga in a statement on Tuesday.

Notwithstanding the “issue” on the designation of an OIC, Panga insisted the operation of PEZA remains unhampered.

Last week, a power struggle ensued between former PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza and Panga following the confusion that stemmed from Memorandum Circulars (MCs) No. 1 and 3—the two memorandum circulars issued by the Office of the President.

As chairman of the PEZA Board which is an attached agency to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual ironed out the issue by releasing a Department Order (DO) last Thursday.

The DO, pursuant to MCs No. 1 and 3, affirmed the designation of Panga as PEZA’s OIC as extended until December 31,2022 or until his replacement has been appointed or designated.

Plaza disputed this, saying the DTI chief’s order—which she said came late—cannot be higher than the mandate from the President, who she said, had effectively made her holdover chief until yearend.

As the current head of PEZA, Panga stressed that his duty is to ensure continuity in the operations within the agency especially now that there are plans waiting in the pipeline.

“As OIC of an income-generating, self-sustaining agency that is crucial in attracting investments, my duty is to ensure continuity in the PEZA operations for the benefit of the locators and their employees by making sound policy decisions and by implementing plans and programs already in the pipeline,” said Panga on Tuesday.

Panga stressed that together with Trade Secretary and PEZA Board Chairman Pascual, “we are focused on enhancing our economic competitiveness to make the Philippines a viable investment destination in the region.”

The Peza OIC also lauded President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr.’s pronouncement to fully support economic zones, during his first state of the nation address (SONA). Panga said the agency is ready to take on the challenge of attracting investments “as we prepare for the upturn in the economy to be able to generate more jobs, exports, and other economic opportunities in the country.”

He said that for the past 24 years, he has seen the agency “rise from a fledgling government instrumentality into a formidable tool of government in improving the standard of living of Filipinos.”

Specifically, Panga said, Peza turned the original 16 economic zones into 417 operating ecozones at no cost to the government, and the original 331 companies into 4,632 locator companies to date.

“With this, there is no doubt on our capability to manage and steer the agency forward,” said the Peza OIC.

“As I have indicated time and again, my being at the helm is only for the time being. In no time, I shall relinquish the functions and authority bestowed upon me by the Office of the President through MC 1 and MC 3 once an appointment is made to the Peza Director Generalship,” added Panga. 

Image credits: Bernard Testa