SANTA ANA, Cagayan: The Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZF), which is considered as the “catalyst for growth” and economic development in Northern Philippines, is set to remit over P100 million representing the national government’s share for 2013.
Officials of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) said this amount represents over a hundred percent increase from 2012. CEZA remitted P88 million to the national government for the period covering 2006 to 2012.
Administrator Jose Marie Ponce said CEZA has also generated thousands of jobs, creating livelihood opportunities, attracting foreign and local tourists, and contributing millions of pesos to government coffers.
“Since CEZA’s inception in 1995, the Cagayan Freeport has transformed by leaps and bounds into something very different from what is used to be,” Ponce said in a speech during the agency’s 19th anniversary held recently.
In a recently released report, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also cited the Cagayan Freeport as the “biggest employment generator” while three locators were named as the “top taxpayers” in the Cagayan Valley region.
“From a losing corporation, we are now an earning corporation that remits millions to the national government,” Ponce said.
Despite criticisms hurled against CEZA by some public figures, Ponce said the agency has made significant gains in improving the economy of this town (where the Freeport is located) as well as neighboring towns.
“With virtually no projects at the start, we now have several projects in the works and from only a couple of hundred tourists, we now have over 100,000 tourists coming in annually, thanks to our tourism programs,” he said.
Proof of this is that Palaui Island, a part of the Cagayan Freeport, is now considered one of the top eco-tourism destinations in the country. CNN Travel has called it one of the top beaches and islands in the world.
Recently, Palaui Island served as the location of Survivor USA’s two seasons, namely “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” which aired in September last year, and “Survivor: Cagayan” which started airing on February 26 this year.
The Cagayan Freeport has also emerged as the first and only regulated interactive gaming jurisdiction in the world, comparable to the Isle of Man, Kahnnawake, Alderney, and Malta Gaming Jurisdictions.
“From a virtually unknown jurisdiction, we were able to achieve this level of respect and credibility with the help of our partners, especially the First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corp., which has invested so much in our place,” Ponce said.