Representatives Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada (4th District, Quezon Province) and Liwayway “Liway” Vinzons-Chato (Lone District, Camarines Norte), both from the Liberal Party, asked the House Committee on Ways and Means to review the performance of freeports and economic zones and use this as guide on whether or not to approve the creation of additional freeports and economic zones in the country.

“I believe that the creation of packets of freeports and ecozones distorts whatever rationality remains within our tariff structure. Tariff and or duty-free importation and other fiscal incentives must be drawn based on an industrial policy that Congress must craft together with our economic planning agency. The absence of a clear industrial policy sends conflicting signals to investors that in the end, all our provinces are actually competing for these investments. It’s a race to the bottom for all our provinces, with domestic industries losing out for its failure to integrate with industries within the economic zones. Local industries also lose as smuggling easily happens inside freeports,” Tañada, Vice Chair of the Special Committee on Globalization, said.

Representative Chato for her part emphasized the importance of requiring the Bureau of Customs to examine all the goods that enter and leave the freeport and ecozone. She complained that there are not enough customs officials to monitor what is happening in all these areas.

“The data that was presented to the Committee on Ways and Means bolsters my position all along. The export earnings of freeports are a lot less than what they have been spending for imports. And the revenues that they generate are likewise a lot less than what was foregone. We really have to look deeply into this because if we grant this to one or two more areas, other areas will also ask for it,” Chato, former BIR Chief, added.


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