Special Economic Zone Institute looms in Ilocos Norte

The province of Ilocos Norte is expected to host the pioneering Special Economic Zone Institute (SEZI) in Region 1 with the state-run Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) as the lead data bank service provider.

In an inception meeting held at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session hall on Monday, Jacky Gajudo, Executive Assistant to the Director General and Chairman of the Special Economic Zone Institute (SEZI), said MMSU is equipped with resources and manpower to carry out the program.

As a SEZI, the main function is to act as collaborator/coordinator in addressing the demands of potential investors such as the provision of technical data pertaining to research and development, said Gajudo, citing local government units could also help the institute in the promotion of export-oriented investments and alleviate poverty in the region.

During the meeting, MMSU president, Dr. Shirley Agrupis, said the university has proposed at least three ecozone initiatives to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority last year.

These include the transformation of the MMSU College of Aquatic Science and Applied Technology (CASAT) in Currimao town as an aquamarine zone, the conversion of the university's forest reserve plantations in Barangay Payao as an agroforestry zone, and the creation of the Knowledge, Innovation, Science and Technology Park inside the 300-hectare university main campus in Batac City.

Republic Act No. 7916 or the Special Ecozone Act of 1995 mandates the PEZA to provide employment opportunities for the Filipinos, increase their productivity and income, especially those in the rural areas through the establishment of SEZI of various types in suitable and strategic locations in the country, and through a measure that shall effectively attract legitimate and productive investments.

Creating SEZI is one of the important programs under the stewardship of PEZA. The aims to enhance partnership with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), LGUs, and industry associations to make Filipinos become multi-skilled, rich human capital, and become world-class workers.

It will also provide professional, technical, and vocational training that matches the manpower needs of foreign and domestic industries in order to attract more investors to the country; and promote export-oriented investments and increase productivity and income in the countryside.

Dr. Agrupis said MMSU is the only state university in the Ilocos region which shall serve as the program-delivering partner and office host of the SEZI that will be established in Batac City.

Comes January 23, Gajudo announced the SEZI office will be officially opened at the National Bioenergy Research and Innovation Center of MMSU.

This will serve as a start-up or inception to a regional PEZA after five years, he added.

For Sarrat Mayor Remigio Medrano, he said Ilocos Norte has huge investment potentials but it needs to further improve its infrastructure.

We can only hope so much because of our current infrastructure. For example, there is no regular port schedule at and we have limited air flights, he said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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