Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman and the economic team of the City Government of Isabela de Basilan held talks with officials from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), December 27, at City Hall’s Sakayan Conference Room.
Representing PEZA Director-General Charito Plaza were Promotions and Public Relations Group General Manager Aleem Guiapal, Division Chief Raison Arobinto, PEZA Ambassador and actor Diether Ocampo and Independent consultant Katrina Manahan. In his remarks, GM Guiapal said that PEZA’s approach in establishing and regulating economic zones in the country was guided by the “Transformation Roadmap: Building Ecozones in the Countryside” in a bid to expand the reach of economic opportunities and growth. To date, there are 415 such ecozones established throughout the Philippines.
The meeting comes at the heel of the City’s bid to establish an agro-industrial ecozone and cement itself as the premier city in the entire Sulu Archipelago as well as the Agri and Aqua-Marine Production Hub of Western Mindanao Growth Corridor (per RDC IX MTRDP). No less than Mayor Hataman cited the recent distinction of the City as the Third Most Improved Component City in the Philippines based on the Department of Trade and Industry’s Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index.
Present at the meeting were Deputy Speaker Mujiv S. Hataman represented by his eldest son Amin Hataman, the chiefs of LEDIPO, CEO, CPDO, PESO, CIO, ICTO and CAO as well as representatives from the private sector Mr. Victor Moore Infante-Ututalum, PCCI Isabela City President and Ms. Margie Auxtero of Isabela Foundation, Nick Ahaddas of USAID EDC Opportunity 2.0 and Derick Labadan of Nagdilaab Foundation, Inc., from the NGO sector.
In 2017, a similar proposal was submitted to PEZA during the previous administration of former Mayor Al Qaid Akbar, but the project has not moved forward since then due to various factors. The City under its current dispensation, however, is committed to submit a new application by January 2022, to realize this project which aims to bring in vital investments in agriculture and light industry, with the aim of achieving food self-sufficiency, for domestic consumption, as well as for export.
The group proceeded to the proposed Ecozone site at a 32-hectare City-owned property located at Sitio Lantung, Baluno for an ocular site visit.