Ecozone Designation of Makati Bldg Puts Spotlight Anew on Lifting NCR Ecozone Ban

An office tower in Makati is now designated as a special economic zone. 

Signing Proclamation No. 1392 on June 13, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Circuit Corporate Center Two as a special economic zone-information technology center.

The 17-story office tower is situated along 3 Theater Drive in Circuit Makati, a “21-hectare entertainment district and lifestyle destination,” as described on the Ayala Land Offices website. 

It has a Gross Leasable Area (GLA) of 25,122 square meters and a floor plate size of 2,500 square meters. Its ground floor features retail spaces, while the 380 parking spaces are distributed on four podium floors and twelve office floors.

The economic zone designation raises questions about the existing ban on new ecozones in Metro Manila. 

But according to the Director-General of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), Charito Plaza, the application for the building’s designation may have been submitted before the moratorium policy was created, as mentioned in this Business World report.

Metro Manila Ecozone Ban

In 2019, an administrative order was issued placing a moratorium on the processing of applications for ecozones in the capital region. This is in line with the government’s push to promote economic and social development in rural areas.

Since 2021, PEZA has been asking the government to lift the ban on new economic zones in Metro Manila. The agency noted the high office space vacancy rate in the capital following the departure of online gambling players and the new normal of work-from-home at the height of the pandemic. The perks that come with the special ecozone designation can grant IT-BPO firms some relief and opportunity to recover, PEZA said.

In April this year, the agency appealed anew and said that the provisions in the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law permit the operations of qualified companies in Metro Manila, Business World reported.

The projected growth in the information technology-business process management industry should also compel the government to establish ecozones in the capital, according to PEZA. The agency cited the IT and Business Process Management Association of the Philippines’ forecast of an increase in uptake of 450,000 to 650,000 seats.

More Ecozones to be Developed

Meanwhile, PEZA is working on developing more ecozones in the country. As mentioned in this Manila Bulletin article, the agency recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to identify viable public lands that can be proposed for presidential proclamation as an ecozone. The Caraga region or northeastern Mindanao will be the pilot area of the project.

The investment promotion agency wants to develop other types of ecozones, including agro-industrial, agro-forestry, mineral processing, and eco-tourism economic zones.

Similarly, PEZA forged ties with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to identify and build economic zones in ancestral domains and lands, Philstar reported. Part of the initiative is to equip indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) in developing and operating such areas.

The agencies will roll out information and education campaigns to brief interested and qualified communities on the different kinds of economic zones, as well as the processes, requirements, and benefits of the ecozone designation.

Those that have certificate of ancestral domain title or a title formally recognizing the rights of possession and ownership of ICCs or IPs over the ancestral domains will be the ecozone developers or owners. They will be the ones receiving lease payments from ecozone tenants.

Meanwhile, indigenous peoples will be the priority in selecting workers for the ecozone development. The government vowed that “cultural sensitivity and cultural integrity will be upheld” in developing investment hubs in ancestral lands.

The partnership between PEZA and NCIP is in line with the government’s push to fast-track development in the countryside.

The Future of CBDs and Provincial Hotspots

The central business districts and the emerging commercial hotspots in the suburbs and rural areas will be among the key topics for discussion in the highly anticipated real estate event of the year, The Outlook 2022: Philippine Real Estate Conference

Prominent personalities in the industry will grace the event to discuss residential and office trends reshaping the property market. The in-person event, which is co-presented by the leading elevator solutions provider KONE, will happen on August 31 at Shangri-La The Fort in Taguig. 

To know more about the event, visit the official page of The Outlook 2022.

Sources: Official Gazette, BusinessWorld, Manila Bulletin, Philstar

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