House approves bills barring LGU interference in Bataan economic zone 

A HOUSE panel has approved bills clarifying the powers of the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) to manage the economic zone free of local government interference.

During the House joint meeting of the economic affairs and trade and industry committees, Bataan Rep. Albert S. Garcia said that while AFAB’s autonomy gives it the power to respond to its locators’ immediate needs, “the management of AFAB has noted that it still encounters certain regulatory and investment promotion challenges.”

“This bill seeks to further clarify or strengthen its regulatory jurisdiction and investment promotion function as well as introduce other amendments that can help further realize its potential as an engine of growth for Bataan and the country as a whole,” Mr. Garcia added.

House Bills No. 7058 and 7187 seek to amend the Republic Act (RA) No. 11453, known as An Act Strengthening the Powers and Functions of the AFAB, which itself amended RA No. 9728 or the Freeport Area of Bataan Act of 2009.

The bills seek to free AFAB from local government unit interference “pursuant to its autonomy and self-reliance.”

They also propose space technology as one of the industries to be managed by the AFAB.

Emmanuel D. Pineda, AFAB administrator, said the expansion of AFAB registered enterprises resulted in P7 billion in new investment in 2022.

The panel also approved bills creating special economic zones in Marinduque, Surigao City, Southern Leyte, Iligan, Camarines Sur, Occidental Mindoro, Sarangani, Maguindanao and Cotabato City, Misamis Occidental, and West Aklan. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz