By Genalyn Kabiling
A measure strengthening the powers and functions of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) and expanding its territory has been signed into law by President Duterte.
Republic Act No. 11453 seeks to amend RA 9728, the Freeport Area of Bataan Act of 2009, to improve the freeport’s potential and attract investment opportunities.
Under the new law, the Bataan freeport will include land territories in Mariveles, Bataan that used to form part of the Bataan economic zone, as well as all other expansion areas within the province not included in the freeport main zone.
The new law also seeks to develop AFAB into a decentralized, self-reliant and self-sustaining industry, commercial-trading, research and development, engineering, medical, education, information, and communications technology and tourism center with provision for suitable residential areas.
The Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan is given additional powers such as authorizing or undertaking establishment, operation, construction, and maintenance of public utilities, services, and infrastructures such as shipping, cargo handling, warehousing, and reclamation projects.
The authority could also operate tourism-related activities including games, amusements, recreational and sports facilities.
Foreign companies may set up enterprises in the freeport area of Bataan either by themselves or in joint venture with Filipinos in any industry. Any foreign national who invests $75,000 shall be entitled to an investor’s visa.
The freeport will also be managed and operated by a separate customs territory ensuring the free flow or movement of goods and capital.
No national and local taxes shall be imposed on registered business establishments operating within the freeport area of Bataan.
The law, signed by the President last August 30, takes effect 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper.