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House OKs bill creating Bulacan Ecozone

 

A bill that seeks to establish the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport (Bulacan Ecozone) hurdled third and final reading at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

House Bill (HB) 7575 was approved with 205 lawmakers voting on the affirmative, six on the negative and one abstention.

The bill proposes the Bulacan Ecozone to be established adjacent to the proposed New Manila International Airport in Bulakan, Bulacan, which will be constructed by San Miguel Aerocity Inc.

 

HB 7507 grants San Miguel Aerocity a franchise to construct, develop, operate and maintain the Bulacan Airport and was approved on September 7.

If enacted, the Bulacan Ecozone will cover the domestic and international airport, the Airport City to be developed adjacent to the airport and lands adjacent to the Airport City.

The bill also creates the “Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority,” which shall manage and operate the Bulacan Ecozone.

House Ways and Means committee Chairman and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, one of the lead authors of both franchise and ecozone bills, welcomed the approval.

“The Bulacan Airport, with a P740-billion investment, will be the single biggest infrastructure item in the country’s history. We expect the ecozone around it to be a hub for economic growth and development for North and Central Luzon. Its downstream effects on investment and the economy will benefit the entire country. This item is also larger than any stimulus measure we could readily fund,” he said.

Salceda said amendments to the bill ensured alignment with other tax reforms.

“They have also become fairer and more beneficial to the Filipino taxpayer,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas opposed the bill, saying the ecozone is “inextricably linked to the environmentally and socially devastating Bulacan Aerotropolis project.”

Brosas pointed out that the project would displace farmers in Bulacan and nearby provinces. She expressed fear that mangroves, fishing communities, and migratory birds would also be displaced with the “questionable feasibility and environmental compliance.”

 

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