Senate passes Bataan Freeport bill
The Senate passed on third reading last Monday a bill that proposes to convert the Bataan Economic Zone (BEZ) in Mariveles, Bataan into a special economic zone and Freeport .
Senator Richard J. Gordon ( Ind. ), co-author and co-sponsor of Senate Bill 2118 or the Freeport Area of Bataan Act of 2009, welcomed its passage, adding that the creation of a Freeport in Bataan will spur development, not only in the province of Bataan , but also in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the whole of Luzon .
"The conversion into a Freeport and special economic zone of the BEZ will generate more investments for the province which will help the government address the problem of increasing unemployment in the country," he said.
"With its proximity to Metro Manila, the Freeport Area of Bataan will attract more foreign investors and has the potential of becoming a busy trade center in Asia once developed to its fullest after a port that could service both local and international trade is successfully put in place," he added.
The bill was passed with 14 affirmative votes, 2 negative votes, and one abstention. HB05344, its counterpart bill in the House of Representatives, was passed on third reading on Dec. 8, 2009 and transmitted to the Senate on Dec. 12, 2009.
Gordon, who led the conversion of the former Subic Naval Base into a Freeport, stressed that local governments should also have a strong hand in operating the Bataan Special Economic Zone and Freeport as they had in Subic because the local folks would have more enthusiasm in making it into a viable operation.
"Every time we manage the zone from Manila , it would appear that they do not have the wherewithal, the desire or the accountability to the local folks to be able to make it happen. I think I can speak personally from the time that the Subic Freeport started operation. I have always thought the local government would best be able to handle Subic ," he said.
Words of discouragement coming from various sectors when the Americans abandoned the military facility in Subic did not prevent Gordon and his group of volunteers from successfully converting the facility into a Freeport . The Freeport was very efficiently run that it started contributing to the national government on its third year of operation.