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President Rodrigo R. Duterte has designated Ayala Land, Inc.’s (ALI) office tower in Makati City as a special economic zone, according to a report by BusinessWorld.
Mr. Duterte signed Proclamation No. 1392 on June 13, which declared Circuit Corporate Center 2 as a special economic zone-information technology center. A copy of the proclamation was made public on Tuesday.
The office building is located along 3 Theater Drive in Circuit, a 21-hectare mixed-use township being developed by ALI in Barangay Carmona.
According to the proclamation, Circuit Corporate Center 2 will have a gross floor area of 46,817 square meters (sq.m.), more or less.
On the AyalaLand Offices website, Circuit Corporate Center 2 is described as a 17-storey office tower.
However, it was unclear whether the proclamation meant the existing ban on new ecozones in the National Capital Region (NCR) has been lifted.
Sought for comment, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin M. Andanar said he had no information on the matter.
In June 2019, Mr. Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 19 that imposed a moratorium on new ecozones in Metro Manila as part of efforts to boost development and investments in the countryside. Buildings designated as ecozones typically receive tax breaks and incentives.
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has sought the lifting of the moratorium, but was rejected by the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB).
PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza said the application for the building’s designation as a special economic zone may have been submitted before the moratorium was implemented in 2019.
“Maybe this application was before the moratorium in the National Capital Region,” Ms. Plaza said in a Viber message.
David T. Leechiu, Leechiu Property Consultants, Inc. chief executive officer, said in a Viber message that it is vital for the ecozone ban in Metro Manila to be lifted since it means less risk for property developers.
“(There is) higher chance of (the buildings) getting leased out, therefore higher chance of them reinvesting capital and generating economic activity. Plus, by building more, the real estate tax base and business tax base becomes larger,” Mr. Leechiu said.
He noted many business process outsourcing (BPO) firms still want to expand in the Philippines, and Metro Manila has the best infrastructure and largest skilled labor market.
“Companies grow in Manila first as the risk-free option and only afterwards will they be able to get board approval to expand outside of Manila. They will choose larger labor markets first such as Cebu for Visayas and Clark for Central Luzon, then grow from there. This is the better approach,” Mr. Leechiu added.
Separately, Mr. Duterte also signed Proclamation No. 1394 which designated several parcels of land in Barangay Santiago, Sto. Tomas City, Batangas to be included in the existing Light Industry & Science Park III-special ecozone.