A group of Bicol congressmen is pursuing in the 19th Congress the creation of a special economic zone (SEZ) in Camarines Siur, which has been recognized as the country’s most business-friendly province for three consecutive years.
House Bill (HB) No.3681, one of the filers of which is Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte, also states that the province is considered one of the country's top economic performers.
Villafuerte had assured the House Committees on Economic Affairs and on Trade and Industry during their recent joint hearing that this proposed SEZ—envisioned to be the “center of development” in the Bicol region—has all that it takes to become a major investment hub, given that its ideal features meet the standards of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) for ecozones.
Villafuerte, majority leader of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA), said "there are already existing infrastructure in broadband connectivity, road network, water facilities and standby power supply” at the Provincial Capitol Complex in the capital town of Pili, where the proposed ecozone will be headquartered.
Villafuerte said the establishment of the proposed special ecozone would not only boost the region’s growth and development, but would also encourage Bicolanos to stay put in their home-provinces instead of flocking to Metro Manila for jobs.
He said this would help the national government attain its twin goals of decongesting the National Capital Region (NCR) and stimulating growth in the countryside.
“Our proposed CamSur Ecozone is expected to overcome all the difficulties faced by other areas that had previously sought SEZ declaration,” said Villafuerte, a former provincial governor.
“It is worth mentioning that CamSur already has two operational and successful economic zones in place that have created jobs, generated income, attracted investments and engendered technology transfer for our province,” he pointed out.
“This gives CamSur a significant advantage over other applicants for SEZs as our proposed ecozone’s profitability is already established. Moreover, the proposed CamSur Special Ecozone meets all the requisites for the establishment of economic zones, under Section 6 of Republic Act (RA) No. 7916 or the PEZA Law, as amended by RA 8748 or the SEZ (Special Economic Zone) Act,” he said.
The requisites for a provincial ecozone include a strategic location; existence of other ecozones in the area; good accessibility via air and land transport; availability of developed and vacant lands for the investors’ buildings and facilities plus their workers’ housing projects; and the presence of a knowledge and innovation industry as well as a ready pool of skilled, semi-skilled and non-skilled trainable labor force.
HB No.3681 was authored by Villafuerte, Camarines Sur Reps. Miguel Luis Villafuerte (5th district) and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata (1st district), and Bicol Saro Party-list.