By: Josephine Asuncion R. Emoy, Ph.D.
Driven with the aim of making the country economically developed and fully industrialized, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority or PEZA has identified select special economic zone institutes in the country to be partners with them in fulfilling this goal.
Such is the challenge and opportunity bestowed to Central Philippines State University (CPSU) upon being chosen as the special eco-zone not only in the Province of Negros Occidental but in the entire Western Visayas region.
Last September 23, 2020, the cyber launching ceremony of the Special Economic Zone Institute (SEZI) of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and CPSU was held through Zoom live conferencing. This was virtually attended by the CHED Chairperson and the Chair of the CPSU Board of Regents (BOR), Hon. J. Prospero E. De Vera, III, the Director General of PEZA, BGen Charito B. Plaza, the Regional Director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in Region VI and a member of the CPSU BOR, Hon. Ro-Ann A. Bacal, the Regional Director of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and also a member of the CPSU BOR, Hon. Rowen R. Gelonga, the Regional Director of CHED Region VI, Hon. Maura Consolacion D. Cristobal, the Kabankalan City Mayor, Hon. Pedro P. Zayco, along with the other national and regional partners, witnesses and stakeholders.
Together with them were their CPSU counterparts headed by Dr. Aladino C. Moraca, University President, Mrs. Jane T. Toledo, Records Officer, Dr. Merlindro Vargas, Director for Production and Enterprise Development, Dr. Marc Alexei Caesar Badajos, Vice-President for Finance and Administration, Dr. Fernando D. Abello, Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Mrs. Victoria Besana, Executive Secretary to the Office of the President, Dr. Angelie Rose Lumba, Director for Research and Extension, and Mrs. Mary Grace Noreen Leduna, ISA coordinator.
Dr. Moraca emphasized in his speech that being identified by PEZA as its partner in the development and management of the special economic zone in Region VI is a huge opportunity for the University in strengthening its readiness in complementing the future projects and developments in the province and the entire region. “With a total of 4,653.7 ha. reservation area, this partnership will serve as the University’s initial take off towards the realization of its plans as reflected in CPSUs Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) in maximizing its resources and becoming instrumental in the management and innovation in the fields of research, instruction, production and extension, which are also the main functions of the institution. With the plan’s emphasis of creating and developing CPSU as a “greenland city” through the establishment of economic zones like the tourism economic zone, agro-industrial economic zone, and I.T. parks and centers, among others, this will promise better employment opportunities to the local and neighboring communities, more revenues to the government in the form of taxes and will provide greater opportunities for local and foreign investments. Hence, this activity is one significant milestone that is worth remembering in the history and existence of CPSU,” Dr. Moraca stated.
These are some of the highlights in the vision of PEZA and CPSU which aims for the internationalization of exports-based investments, professionalization of the personnel of the economic zone administration and the proliferation of export literate workforce in Western Visayas.
In terms of the institution’s preparedness for this commitment, Dr. Moraca emphasized that the University’s current initiatives are geared for economic zone development of the province and the region. These include first, the flour industry development project in partnership with the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental and the local government unit of Kabankalan to maximize the underutilized root crops by the farmers; second, the production of safe and healthy food through organic farming practices in partnership with the farmers in its reservation area including other neighboring farmers and Indigenous People (IPs) in Negros Occidental and Oriental; third, development of practical and appropriate technologies, tools and equipment to support agricultural productivity. Some of these are the flour machine developed and perfected by the University R and D team, the development of the first tractor of the country in partnership with an international private sector, and its on-going project on essential oil production and processing. Fourth is the establishment of community-based and center-based education agri-eco tourism; and fifth is the production and processing of the natural muscovado sugar.
“These projects and programs will ensure food security and self-sustainability, creation of wealth at the local levels, more concrete livelihood activities and opportunities, and the development and adoption of life-changing technologies,” Dr. Moraca added.
Part of the program was the presentation of the Central Philippines State University Special Economic Zone Institute Council who will lead and manage the functions, duties and responsibilities of the team. They are as follows: Neilbert Gaviola Gajudo as the Chairperson, Engr. Marc Alexei Caesar Badajos, Ph.D. as the Vice-Chairperson for Planning and Development, and Atty. Rufino Ranulfo Z. San Juan, IV as the Vice-Chairperson for Admin and Industrial Affairs. The Council members are Dr. Fernando D. Abello as the Leader of the Technical Working Group (TWG) for Instruction, Dr. Angelie Rose Lumba as the Leader of the TWG for Research, Dr. Merlindro Vargas as the Leader of the TWG for Production, Dr. Jimmy Degillo as the Leader of the TWG for Extension, and Mr. Vicente Trio, Jr. as the Leader of the TWG for Finance. The secretariats are composed of the following: Neilbert Gaviola Gajudo as the Chief of the Secretariat, Mary Grace Noreed Leduna as the Acting Legal Officer, Jane Toledo as the Communication and Protocol Officer, Engr. Maria Cristina Canson as the Logistics Officer, Victoria Besana as the Agri-Business Specialist, Merick Paculanang as the Information Technology Specialist, and Francis Ian Adad as the Multimedia Creatives Specialist. The above officers and staff are ordained with authority and rights to represent PEZA and CPSU in carrying on the roles, functions, and responsibilities of the council to all partners and stakeholders who will be directly or indirectly involved in the undertaking, exploration and administration of the programs, thrusts and projects of the institute for and in the region.
This was followed by the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement or MOA with the following signatories; Hon. Aladino C. Moraca, CPSU President, Hon. J. Prospero E. De Vera, III, CHED Chairperson and the CPSU BOR Chairperson and BGen Charito Plaza, Director General, PEZA. The witnesses of the sealing of this agreement were the PEZA Deputy Director General, Ms. Mary Harriet O. Abordo; the PEZA Deputy Director General for Policy and Planning, Mr. Tereso O. Panga; the Visayas Zone Administrator, Atty. Abullah Adel-Khan P. Alug; and the Deputy Zones Administrator, Atty. Rufino Ranulfo Z. San Juan, IV.
Messages of support and congratulations were also expressed by Hon. Pedro P. Zayco, Hon. Rowen R. Gelonga, Dr. Allen Lena, CHED Education Supervisor II who spoke on behalf of Dr. Maura Cristobal, and Hon. Ro-Ann Bacal who especially mentioned that, “CPSU being the educational partner of PEZA in the field of academics, research and extension, will help prepare students to become more exports literate, and cater to local enterprises to introduce them to the exciting field of exports and large scale manufacturing and integrated industries.”
In the Keynote Speech of the Inaugural Guest of Honor, Hon. De Vera, he extended his commendation and support to CPSU on this challenging yet promising partnership with PEZA. In a live response, BGen Plaza, the PEZA Director General, stated that as the biggest Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) in the country operating nationwide, their vision is to create different types of economic zones that attract different types of industries not only for the purpose of boosting the local economy and provide livelihood to the people, but more importantly to ensure a bigger, better and brighter Philippines.”