Press Release
February 27, 2024

on the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Act (CRN 209, SBN 2572)
February 27, 2024

Mr. President, dear colleagues, it is my privilege to sponsor this measure that aims to usher in a new age of economic opportunities and investments in our Gateway to the North--the historic province of Bulacan, the one that our Majority Leader loves so much.

During the previous Congress, I sponsored on the Floor the franchise of the New Manila International Airport--a game-changer as not only the first-ever airport franchise granted by Congress, but is also the biggest private sector investment in the country.

This Chamber passed the measure even at the height of the pandemic, when transportation was basically closed, as we believed then in the eventual resurgence of air travel and the new airport's promise of stimulating economic activity, boosting tourism and employment, and decongesting the long-suffering Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

But what we are sponsoring today is the next big step--the creation of a special economic zone with the airport project at its heart. No airport is an island. The success of an airport relies on a whole ecosystem of properly run highways and roads, vibrant markets and industries, and seamless collaboration with its neighboring towns and communities.

There have been many examples of successful ecozones anchored on nearby airports. In Ireland, for example, there is the Shannon Airport and its neighboring Shannon Free Zone--which is considered to be the world's first modern special economic zone.

Established in 1959, this free trade zone was Ireland's signal to the world that it is open for business.

Mr. President, dati naghihirap ang Ireland, after these economic policies, sila na ang isa sa naging pinakamayanan sa buong EU.

Established as I've mentioned in 1959, today, this free trade zone now hosts 300 companies and employs about 8,000 individuals. In numbers, the Shannon Airport Group--which consists of the Airport, the Free Zone, and other related ventures--has contributed to about 3.96 billion Euros in 2022 alone to Ireland's GDP in terms of Gross Value Added. Katumbas nito ay mahigit dalawampung libong (20,000) trabaho.

Sa South Korea naman, they have the Incheon Free Economic Zone which houses the world-renowned Incheon International Airport. Built on former mudflats, the area has since grown into an economic driving force within South Korea's economy.

The ecozone itself has generated $14.756 billion USD in foreign direct investments, and is poised to attract key investments in bio-industry, tourism, robotics, and tech industry.

The proposed Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport, or Bulacan Ecozone, aims to follow these success stories by ensuring that the local community grows side by side with the new Airport Project. It consists of approximately 55,505 hectares and covers most municipalities adjacent to the New Manila International Airport.

In terms of investments, its goal is to attract a whole array of businesses and institutions ranging from hi-tech conglomerates such as Samsung, to semi-conductor manufacturers, battery manufacturers, electric vehicle manufacturers, and other emerging and sustainable technologies.

Based on submitted calculation, tinatayang aabot ng P130.939 billion ang economic potential ng Bulacan Ecozone. At sa tuloy-tuloy nitong pag-unlad, inaasahan natin na makakapagbigay ito mula 800 thousand hanggang 1.2 million na trabaho.

Of course, hindi naman maipagkakaila that the biggest challenge this measure faces is overcoming the veto. Thus in this new bill, we made sure to include proper language that would address the President's concerns as well as other issues by stakeholders.

Ginawa natin dito sa Senado. First, the metes and bounds of the ecozone has been properly drawn by indicating the exact cities and municipalities covered by the zone. Additionally, any future expansions will be by a presidential proclamation with clearly defined boundaries.

Second, we removed the Ecozone Authority's blanket powers to undertake airport operations and to craft environmental rules and regulations. Pinagtibay din natin ang tungkulin ng DENR bilang pangunahing tagapangasiwa ng kalikasan sa loob ng Ecozone.

Third, COA's oversight was strengthened by explicitly stating that all of the Ecozone Authority's transactions are subject to COA's accounting and additional rules.

Fourth, all incentives have been aligned with CREATE, ensuring that there are no tax grants outside of what the current system already provides.

Finally, we made certain that Bulacan Ecozone's development plans are with timelines and milestones to ensure that everyone would have the same vision on what BACSEZFA's role will be on Bulacan's development and progress.

And I should also mention, Mr. President, that the local government would have a fair share of the income generated from this economic zone. Meron pong posyento na mapupunta para sa mga kalapit na lugar dito sa Bulacan para ang kinikita nito ay maipamahagi rin doon sa mga kalapit na lugar dito sa airport at ecozone.

Mr. President, ang kahit anong proyekto na pangkaunlaran, local man o national, ay napagtatagumpayan lamang kung mayroong sama-samang pagpaplano. At sa panukalang batas na ito, masisiguro na kasama ang Bulacan sa paglipad tungo sa mga bagong oportunidad at pag-asa.

It is thus my honor to endorse to this Chamber for deliberation, Senate Bill No. 2572, under Committee Report No. 209. Maraming salamat po.

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