Senate approves measure seeking creation of Bulacan Special Economic Zone and Freeport

MANILA. Senator Grace Poe.
MANILA. Senator Grace Poe.Photo from Senate of the Philippines

THE Senate approved on third and final reading on Monday, March 18, 2024, a measure seeking the creation of the Bulacan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (BuZ).

Senate Bill 2572 was sponsored by Senator Grace Poe with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, and Senators Pia Cayetano, Ronald Dela Rosa, JV Ejercito, and Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go as co-sponsors.

The BuZ is where the New Manila International Airport will be constructed as it is to be developed into and operated as a "decentralized, self-reliant and self-sustaining, aviation hub, industrial, commercial, trading, agro-industrial, tourism, retirement, banking, financial and investment center, emerging and future technologies, with suitable residential areas."

“Throughout our collective brainstorming, we have crafted a vastly improved bill that adheres to the constitutional provisions on land conversion, balances economic growth with environmental protection, and warrants greater local government unit (LGU) representation at its helm," Poe said following the bill's approval.

"It will spur investments, create more jobs and will be a model, not just here in the Philippines, but all over Asia," she added.

Poe said the projected economic gains from the proposed Bulacan Special Economic Zone and Freeport could reach P130.9 billion and could generate 800,000 to 1.2 million jobs for Filipinos.

The measure mandates the creation of the Bulacan Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (Beza), under the direct supervision and control of the Office of the President, to oversee the management and operation of BuZ.

The Beza shall have an authorized capital stock of P2 billion in which the majority shares shall be subscribed and paid for by the national government and the local government units embracing the ecozone.

It is required to come up with a general framework for land use, planning, and development for the area covered by the proposed ecozone in consultation with the National Economic and Development Authority and in line with the goals of the Philippine Development Plan.

The development of the BuZ shall also be integrated and consistent with the plans of national government agencies, regional development councils, and local government units with respect to transportation, telecommunications infrastructure and other facilities.

As for revenues, the Beza and affected LGUs shall be entitled to a share in the special corporate income tax under Republic Act 8424, otherwise known as the "National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997" as amended, from all registered business enterprises within the ecozone.

Forty percent of the corporate income tax will proceed to the National Government, 20 percent to Beza for infrastructure development, and 40 percent to the concerned LGUs.

"With this measure, the Bulakenyos and the rest of the country can expect a world-class economic zone that we can be proud of," Poe said. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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