DAVAO CITY - The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is eyeing at least 7 fully operational economic zones by 2020. ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman made the pronouncement in his speech during the opening ceremonies of the Mindanao Ecozone Summit on Thursday,
The two-day event, held in Davao City, was organized by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) aimed at completing and finalizing the ecozone masterplan in Mindanao. “Our goal is to establish at least one ecozone in each of the ARMM provinces – Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi – as well as in the cities of Marawi (Lanao del Sur) and Lamitan (Basilan) by the year 2020,” Gov. Hataman said.
The move is designed to attract investments, help generate local jobs and enhance the region’s overall economic performance. The governor said the regional government is institutionalizing the operation of the Regional Economic Zone Authority, which was created by Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act 154, as cited in Republic Act 9054.
The ARMM currently has only one operating ecozone, the Polloc Freeport and Economic Zone (PFEZ) in Maguindanao, which, as of 2016, has generated an income of P27.9 million and revenues amounting to P134 million for the Bureau of Customs. Gov. Hataman said his declaration of the PFEZ as “halal hub” is in support to the PEZA’s “mission to expand into new frontiers” and takes advantage of the region’s “potential as a gateway of the Philippines to the multi-trillion dollar halal industry.”
He said the region will focus on economic sectors where it has a competitive advantage and these include agro-industry, tourism, trading, halal investment, and Islamic financing. The ARMM government, he said, has already established a link with countries in the Middle Eastand in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to explore possible collaborations on economic development projects that will benefit not only the region but the rest of the country as well. (Bureau of Public Information)