Group bats for industrialization of Eastern Visayas

A REGIONAL political party based in Eastern Visayas is pushing for the industrialization of the region “to generate more jobs and uplift it from poverty.”

“Tingog is committed to supporting the expansion of Leyte Industrial Development Estate (Lide) into the proposed Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone (Leiz), an integrated special economic zone that covers the municipalities of Palompon and Isabel and Ormoc City,” said Jude Acidre, the second nominee of Tingog Sinirangan party-list.

Lide was among the first special economic zones in the Philippines and the centerpiece of the country’s industrialization plan.

Established in the 1980s, it is home to Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corporation (Pasar), a copper smelting and refinery plant; Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corporation (Philphos), once the largest fertilizer production and processing plants in the country; and Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company, then a strong player in the minerals industry.

“Despite the decline in manufacturing activities in Lide, the economic benefits that came with the industries remain,” Acidre said.

Acidre added that despite the modest gains, it cannot be denied that objectives that were envisioned for Lide were not fully realized.

“We need more productive jobs in the region. This means getting our industrialization policy back on track. But we need an industrialization policy that is both responsive to our current needs and attentive to our ecological realities,” said Acidre in a press statement.

Lepanto has since then ceased operations, while Philphos has yet to resume full operations after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Meanwhile, Pasar is operating at half the capacity it did before the typhoon.

Acidre said no additional industrial locators have moved into the industrial estate and there were no initiatives to attract new locators or even upgrade the facilities located at Lide.

“Almost three decades after, we have yet realized our vision of a competitive regional economy. That is why we need not only to bring more industrial locators to Lide but also engage with light-to-medium industries that could benefit from the infrastructure that is already in place,” Acidre said on Leiz.

“Did you know that the total copper output of Pasar is more than half our country’s entire copper industry output -- which we can even double if we develop further our copper industry’s downstream? Did you know that one of the by-products of copper processing is gold and silver -- which can lead to the development of a local jewelry industry?” Acidre asked.

Meanwhile, Acidre said that Tingog will work hard to finally realize the long overdue Eastern Visayas Regional Growth Center in Tacloban City.

The said agro-industrial zone was first conceptualized in the early 1990s.

Acidre hoped to legislate the creation of “agro-industrial zones” similar to industrial zones "where we allow collective farming while maintaining ownership of the farms by local farmers."

This enables capital access by modern and innovative farming enterprises, and connect farmers with capital, technology, and the market, Acidre said.

“More jobs mean higher household incomes and higher spending that could invigorate our local micro, small and medium enterprises. Industrialization alone cannot sustain the growth we envision. We need the MSMEs to ensure that a diverse and resilient economy is in place. This being said, we cannot forget the importance of furthering agricultural modernization,” said Acidre.

“This will allow the processing of our agricultural produce into high-value products, significantly benefiting our farmers and farming communities. Do you know that Eastern Visayas is the country’s top producer of abaca, and yet our total abaca output place in comparison to that of Bicol, or that we are the third largest producer of coconuts, but our coconut farmers are among the poorest in the country?” Acidre said.

He maintained that the creation of the Leiz, the EVRGC and the proposed agro-industrial zones “all require legislative action, which Tingog is committed to undertake.”

“So, too, is the need to push funding support for critical infrastructure projects in the region that will link homes and cities, farms and markets, peoples and services,” Acidre added in a statement.

He said empowering the regional countryside is the cause behind Tingog.

“It may not happen overnight, but Tingog is committed to seeing this goal realized -- motivated by a collective mandate of ‘thinking national, but acting regional,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tingog will work toward the creation of the Eastern Visayas Development Authority, a government corporation mandated to spearhead investment promotion and implement economic development strategies.

“For example, a foreign investor interested in investing in Eastern Visayas need not go to all the local government units in the regions or a disinterested national government agency -- he doesn’t even have to be in Tacloban -- but through EVDA, one can get the right and concise information and support that he or she needs,” added Acidre while urging the people of Eastern Visayas to “build our confidence in the future.

“Not only will we be committed to empowering our local government units, but also with EVDA, we can ensure that our investment priorities and promotion strategies are in sync with our development needs and our regional strengths such as our geographical location, our skilled human resources, and our immense tourism potentials,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)


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