By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Eight cities in Metro Manila with nothing or less IT Parks and Centers maybe exempted from the coverage of Administrative Order (AO) 18, which imposes a moratorium on the proclamation and approval of these special ecozones in the metropolis.
Metro Manila cities with zero IT Parks and Centers are Malabon, Caloocan, Pateros and Valenzuela. The cities of Las Pinas, Marikina, San Juan and Manila have one each while Pasay has 4.
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) in a letter dated July 1, 2019 to Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdia has requested Malacañang to spare these cities from the coverage of AO 18. At the same time, PEZA also requested for the extension of the 30-day grace period to facilitate the proclamation of the pending ecozones to allow complete submissions of requirements by project proponents to the PEZA and for the PEZA Board to approve these ecozones before endorsing to the Office of the President.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, who is also PEZA chairman, already approved of a three-month grace period instead of the PEZA proposal for a 6-month extension.
As of June 2019, there are 131 PEZA Board approved IT Parks and Center with locations in Metro Manila for endorsement to the OP. This is on top of the 22 already endorsed by PEZA and awaiting Presidential Proclamation. As with other special ecozones, IT Parks and Centers have to be proclaimed by the President.
In asking for the exemption of the 8 cities, PEZA cited the latest IT industry report which showed a tight supply in available IT building spaces under PEZA given the forecasted IT office space take-up of 450,000 sqm this year vis-à-vis the available 214,000 sqm in Metro Manila. These limited office spaces are up for grabs by IT and online gaming companies, which sectors account for the biggest office space take-up in Metro Manila.
The PEZA letter to Malacañang was also accompanied by support letters from the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines and the IT Business Process Association of the Philippines.
As of June 2019, there are a total of 167 IT Parks/Centers in the National Capital Region. Makati topped the list with 45 followed by Quezon City with 35 and Pasig with 24. Taguig has 19, Mandaluyong with 18, Muntinlupa 13, and Parañaque 5.