Explainer: What to Know About the Bulacan EcoZone Bill
Manila/ Nomads/ Explore

Explainer: What to Know About the Bulacan Economic Zone Bill

Bulacan airport Photo by Facebook/Bulacan International Airport

The Philippine Senate has approved on the third and final reading Senate Bill (SB) No. 2572, an act that establishes the creation of the Bulacan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, also known as Bulacan EcoZone (BuZ), in the province of Bulacan in Central Luzon.

The approval comes after some fine-tuning. Almost two years ago, in July 2022, it can be remembered that President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. thumbed down a similar bill, House Bill (HB) No. 7575, which sought the creation of the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport. At the time, Marcos cited "fiscal prudence" behind his decision to veto the bill.

The BuZ, according to SB No. 2572, shall host the Airport Project and the Airport City Project, which will be constructed, developed, operated, and maintained by the San Miguel Corporation's (SMC) wholly-owned subsidiary, San Miguel Aerocity Inc. (SMAI). The airport shall be called the New Manila International Airport (NMIA).

The projects shall see the establishment of a Domestic and International Airport in Bulakan, Bulacan, along with the construction of an adjacent Airport City.

The bill also stipulates the creation of the Bulacan Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (BEZA), which will be responsible for the management and operation of the BuZ. It shall also coordinate with local government units and supervise all development plans and activities within the BuZ.

The BEZA will likewise be tasked to consult with the National and Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to ascertain sustainable development in the areas covered by the BuZ and for their development to be in concordance with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP). These include lands in Barangay San Nicolas (Bulakan); Barangay Ubihan and Liputan (Meycauayan); Barangays Abangan Norte, Abangan Sur, and Nagbalon (Marilao); and in Barangays Salambao, Binuangan, Tawiran, Paco, Lawa, San Pascual, Paliwas, Pag-Asa (Poblacion), Catanghalan, and Panghulo (Obando).

Locators within the BuZ must register under the BEZA to be eligible for business incentives. Moreover, the BEZA is also mandated to operate and manage the BuZ as a separate customs territory, granted that a permanent customs control or customs office be constructed at the BuZ's perimeter.

According to the bill, the BEZA will have two billion-worth no par shares of authorized capital stock, at a minimum issue of P10 each.

Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs and the sponsor of SB 2572, was quoted as saying that the bill is anticipated to bring in a "new age of economic opportunities and investments" in the Philippines, as per a report by INQUIRER.net on March 19, 2024.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, a Bulakeño, also called the bill's passage "groundbreaking," due to its potential to generate over a million jobs, and between P37.84 billion- and P130.9 billion-worth of investments.

Meanwhile, the NMIA is expected to have a capacity of 35 million passengers every year and a target of 100 million passengers each year once it is completely finished, according to SMC. It is described as "the single-largest investment" in the Philippines, thus far, offering itself as a long-term solution to the air traffic congestion in Manila.

The airport will be built over a property spanning 2,500 hectares and shall include, aside from the adjacent airport city, airfield facilities, a terminal building, airport and airline support facilities, access roads, parking facilities, utilities, and other ancillary facilities.

The NMIA project is estimated to cost around P740 billion, according to SMC via a report by The Philippine Star on March 16. Airport development works are slated to begin next year in 2025.

Get the latest curated content with The Beat Asia's newsletters. Sign up now for a weekly dose of the best stories, events, and deals delivered straight to your inbox. Don't miss out! Click here to subscribe.

This Week's Events In Manila View more

Sign up to receive updates on what's going on in the city. Don't miss out on exciting events, news, and more. Sign up today!

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice
Thank you for subscribing! Click here if you were not redirected.