The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has assured the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) its full support to its plans and programs particularly for establishing a defense industrial ecozone in military reserves.
AFP Chief of Staff Lt Gen Cirilito Sobejana said this during PEZA’s 26th year anniversary celebration on 24 February 2021.
Sobejana congratulated PEZA for “persistently promoting sound and balanced industrial, economic, and social development that continuously empower our people to become productive partners and integral catalysts for progress and nation building.”
“I urge PEZA to continue being true with the agency’s primary objective of providing a globally competitive environment for investments. On our part, we will continue to commit ourselves and provide our full support to PEZA and all its endeavors,” said Sobejana.
He added, “The partnership between PEZA and the AFP has just started. We have to journey together towards building a stronger relationship in as far as growth and progress of our nation is concerned. We hope that this partnership will continue to prosper.”
PEZA and the AFP have continued talks regarding the utilization of military reserve lands to become economic zones.
Under the leadership of Director General Charito B. Plaza, who herself is an AFP reservist with the rank of Brigadier General in the Philippine Air Force Reserve, the first woman General in that branch of the armed forces, PEZA has established different types of economic zones based on the land potential of the region. This includes the proposed creation of defense industrial complexes in the Philippines.
According to Plaza, the discussion started duringSobejana’s stewardship of the Philippine Army (PA), which is managing almost 20,000 hectares of military reservation areas and we are now planning to make this the first Defense Industrial Complex in the country.”
“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,” she noted.
For his part, the AFP Chief explained that “We are currently exploring the idea of establishing a defense industrial complexes in selected military reservation [areas] across the country. We really need to produce locally our defense requirements and reduce our dependency to foreign suppliers. Of course, we need the technology that other countries have for us to establish [defense industries] here in our country for various.”
Plaza also emphasized that the partnership with the AFP is much needed especially in ensuring the safety and welfare of the Filipino people especially those in our economic zones.
“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,” explained the PEZA Chief.
She added that, “PEZA cannot do it alone. We need the help of our forces to better equip us against manmade and natural disasters.”
Supporting the call, Sobejana noted, “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.”
In fact, Sobejana explained, “The 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.”
“PEZA made a huge contribution through relief operations during the eruptions of Taal Volcano, the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysees and other typhoons, and in our fight against the spread of COVID-19,” the AFP Chief said.