Senator Edgardo J. Angara yesterday defended the 2011 allocation of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and all its attached agencies in the last day of the marathon budget deliberations at the Senate.
During the period of interpellation for the budget of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO), Angara updated the Senate on the current progress of the project. He also enumerated the positive impact of the project on the people and the land in Aurora.
Angara, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, outlined the major economic benefits to the people of Aurora and the nearby provinces.
“The opening of the free trade zone in Casiguran will open up almost a million hectares of land and water, which are rich investment areas in the Philippines that remain untapped. As the only harbor in the Eastern seaboard, it will also provide access to the Pacific to the provinces of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, even Bicol and Isabela.
“This opening to the Pacific will provide opportunities not just to the people of Aurora, but to the entire Northeast corner of the Philippines which has remained undeveloped, unserved for the past three centuries,” he asserted.
According to Angara, the major roads between Casiguran, Dicasalarin and Baler, are almost completely concretized for a much smoother travel through the arterial road system by the Department of Public Works and Highways. The rapid infrastructure development, he said, was because of the proposed ecozone.
He also cited the creation of a coconut research and nursery facility called the Aurora Provincial Coconut Development Center, which maximized the productivity of the province. This nursery now generates thousands of coconut seedlings in an attempt to answer the rising demand from several areas in Luzon.
Angara also explained the rationale behind the reclamation of certain areas in Aurora.
“Whether ancestral domain, forest zone, marine reserve, or historical site, the intent of taking over these areas is to prioritize their preservation and conservation. This province has a lot of cultural treasures which we must take care of,” explained Angara, who heads the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.