PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte, through Administrative Order No. 18, has ordered concerned government agencies to expedite the development of special economic zones in rural areas.
Under AO No. 18 (dated 17 June 2019), concerned government agencies are directed to fast-track human capital and infrastructure development, as well as the provision of needed interventions to strengthen ecozones in the countryside, and ensure the development of backward and forward linkages of industries in and around such economic development areas.
Government agencies covered by AO 18 include: the Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
AO 18 however ordered a moratorium on the processing of applications for ecozones in Metro Manila, to complement existing strategies and policies on rural development.
“The PEZA shall no longer accept, process or evaluate applications for the establishment of ecozones in Metro Manila immediately upon the effectivity of this Order and until such moratorium is lifted. The herein moratorium shall not prevent locator companies from commencing their operations on existing ecozones in Metro Manila,” the AO reads.