Home » Customs & Trade, Ports/Terminals » Duterte pushes for more rural ecozones, freezes new applications in MM

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the development of economic zones (ecozones) in the Philippine countryside to promote rural development and create robust economic activity in areas outside Metro Manila.

The President, through Administrative Order (AO) No. 18 signed June 17, 2019, has also ordered a moratorium on the processing of applications for ecozones in Metro Manila to complement the new policy.

“There is a need to promote rural development, ensure inclusive growth in the countryside and create robust economic activity and wealth generation in areas outside Metro Manila,” AO 18 states.

It adds that part of the 0+10 Point Socio-economic Agenda of the current administration is to promote rural and value chain development to increase agricultural and rural enterprise productivity and rural tourism, as well as invest in human capital development through matching skills and training to meet the demand of businesses and the privtae sector.

AO 18 directs the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to hasten human capital and infrastructure development, as well as to provide the needed interventions to strengthen ecozones in the countryside, and “ensure the development of backward and forward linkages of industries in and around such ecozones.”

All departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, or instrumentalities of the government, including government-owned and controlled corporations, are also directed to render needed support to the implementation of AO 18.

To complement this strategy, PEZA shall no longer accept, process, or evaluate applications to establish ecozones in Metro Manila immediately upon the effectivity of AO 18 and until such moratorium is lifted. The moratorium, however, shall not prevent locator companies from commencing their operations in existing ecozones in Metro Manila.

An application for a new ecozone in Metro Manila endorsed by PEZA and already submitted to the Office of the President (OP) as of the date of effectivity of AO 18 shall not be covered by the moratorium in several instances.

These are when the application already pending with the OP is found to have no deficiencies in its supporting documents; when the OP, even prior to the effectivity of AO 18, has already notified PEZA of deficiencies in supporting documents, and PEZA satisfactorily addresses such deficiencies within 30 days from the AO’s effectivity; and when the OP, after the AO’s effectivity, notifies PEZA of deficiencies in the supporting documents and PEZA satisfactorily addresses the noted deficiencies within 30 days from receipt of notice of such deficiencies.

The exclusion of an application from the moratorium “shall not be construed as a guarantee that the same will be granted,” AO 18 states.

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