PEZA not being ‘militarized’ in partnership with AFP, Plaza insists

Published March 2, 2021, 4:38 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Charito Plaza said the agency’s partnership with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) shouldn’t be interpreted as “militarizing” the former.

AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana and PEZA Director General Charito Plaza
(Photo by PEZA)

This, as PEZA trumpeted in a statement Tuesday, March 2 its plans and programs with the AFP, particularly for the setting up of Defense Industrial Ecozones in military reserve lands.

“We hope to invite investors and defense industries who will manufacture military aircraft, seacraft, weapons, equipment, software, hardware, uniforms, and all those that the military and police will be needing,” Plaza said.
Plaza noted that the partnership between AFP and the Authority is necessary in ensuring the safety and welfare of the Filipino people, especially those in economic zones. As such, it shouldn’t be construed as militarization.

“We are not militarizing PEZA. We are just making our employees and the industry workers in the ecozone as military reservists. And we are trained by the military, soon the police will join in the trainings, so that we will make our ecozone workers and PEZA employees as disaster and calamity responders. They can assure our investors that investing in our economic zones will be very safe and secured,” she explained.

She added: “PEZA cannot do it alone. We need the help of our forces to better equip us against manmade and natural disasters.”  

Serving as guest during PEZA’s 26th year anniversary celebration last Feb. 24 at the PEZA Auditorium was AFP Chief of Staff Lt.Gen.Cirilito Sobejana. He also gave justification for the partnership.

“We are just wanted to give assurance to the investors that your huge amount of investment is secured, wherever it is across the Philippine archipelago,” he said.

Sobejana further said that program between the AFP and PEZA “enabled us to effectively perform other roles and functions such as disaster response and other various community services as an affiliated reserve unit.”  

The AFP boss cited PEZA for its huge contribution in the relief operations during the eruption of Taal Volcano, the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysees and other typhoons, and in the continuing fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).