About CEZA


Vision & Mission

We envision a fully developed Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport to be a vibrant hub of diverse and sustainable industries and dynamic economic activities in Asia Pacific, thereby catalyzing inclusive growth and local development in Northern Philippines.


We are an innovative professional management group bound by common values of social responsibility, service orientation, transparency and accountability committed to fulfilling the mandate of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.


The Administrator and CEO

CEZA CEO - Jose Mari B. Ponce



With a reputation for toughness, Lambino
takes on the task of turning CEZA around 

He was in the company of Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III during an official visit to China when his mobile phone rang.

“You will be appointed head of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA),” a senior official who was calling from Malacañang, told him, and Raul L. Lambino’s career began to shift into another gear he could not possibly have imagined before.

And so without much ado and fanfare, in keeping with his low-key style, the well-reputed lawyer from Pozorrubio, Pangasinan accepted the job, and spent his first working day at the CEZA on the 4th Monday of July 2017, when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivered his second State of the Nation Address.

“As the President’s personal choice to head this agency, I will follow his orders and instructions to serve our people, and serve them well with the highest degree of honesty, integrity and efficiency,” Lambino told a lean workforce that was on hand to welcome him.

“We will have an efficient operation – clean and free of corruption – and we will make the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (Cagayan Freeport) a bustling economic hub,” he vowed.

For someone who grew up making the virtue of hard work in learning the ropes, Lambino’s reputation for toughness in getting things done seems to suit him well in this new job, although he did not apply for it.

“This is a challenge, but I have always looked on challenges as windows of opportunities; they cannot break you; they can only make you a better worker, a better person.” Lambino says.

A Legal Practitioner and Stalwart Reformist

Before his appointment, Lambino was reviewer and lecturer in Remedial Law and Political Law for more than twenty (20) years and managing director of Lambino Law Firm, which handles corporate and litigation cases. He was the lone voice in the press and on television and radio of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her long, difficult detention on trumped-up charges filed by the previous administration of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III against her.

As Mrs. Arroyo’s legal spokesman from 2010 to 2016, Lambino handled the job with aplomb and political savvy.  It was a remarkable quality that the Filipino public first noticed in him some years earlier, when he was appointed by then President Arroyo as member of the 2005 Constitutional Consultative Commission; in 2006 when he led with distinction as strategist and campaign spokesman of the “Sigaw ng Bayan” group that called for people’s initiative to reform the 1987 Philippine Constitution; and in 2007 when he ably defended former House Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. in the Ombudsman and in the House Ethics Committee.

Lambino would look upon each of these assignments as a difficult passage, the revision of the Constitution because it seemed years ahead of its time, and the handling of the high profile cases of the former president and former speaker who were both exonerated from all the charges filed against them.

“One must make a stand when justice itself is under assault and on trial,” he says, “and one has to fight for it.”

At heart a constitutional reformist, Lambino has persisted in the campaign for charter reform for thirty years as a matter of conviction.

He views the Cory Constitution, as the 1987 Charter is often called, as an “overly long political document against the excesses of one-man rule.” It is overdue for an overhaul, he says.

“It is time to revisit the Charter’s onerous political and economic provisions and position the Philippines towards full-scale development and industrialization,” he says.

PDU30 CORE; Federal System of Government

Since 2016, he has been Lead Convener of the PDU30 Constitutional Reformers (CORE) to Federalism. From 2006 to 2008, he was vice president for Constitutional Reforms of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).

The issue in the new millennium has shifted to social and economic development—about giving every Filipino his due, Lambino says. “One cannot be politically empowered when he is not socially and economically stable in life.”

His primary advocacy is to reform the structure of government. He has taken on the mantle as campaign stalwart in President Duterte’s drive to fulfill his campaign promise to shift the country to a Federal System of government.

“It is time we become a forward-looking people and take full responsibility for what we want to become, rather than always looking back to the past and putting the blame on others,” Lambino describes his approach.

“It is time we break free of that mindset,” he adds.

Greater Cagayan Advance Special Economic Zone and Freeport 

The task at CEZA is far from the sphere of political intrigue he is familiar with, but it will pull Lambino into a fresh territory for which he could wield his considerable charm and talent at convincing people into coaxing major commercial, industrial, financial and entertainment investors from Asia, Oceania, North America, Europe and Africa to take a serious look at the Cagayan Freeport’s great potential.

His experience in commercial law practice and involvement with the International Chamber of Commerce, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and various business councils are most helpful and indispensable in his new job.

For the uninitiated, CEZA sits in a promontory at the northeastern-most edge of Cagayan province, bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, and on the north by the Babuyan Channel that opens out into the bustling markets of East Asia and major international shipping routes.

It is this excellent location that is nature’s gift to CEZA.

Lambino will have to reinforce this strength with something more tangible and necessary to fuel CEZA’s turn-around.

It begins with the dredging and upgrading of Port Irene, and the expansion and modernization of the Cagayan North International Airport in Lal-lo town—the major ports of entries from the sea and air.

To be fully operational, and even competitive, the Cagayan Freeport has to have a stable power supply and efficient and fast Internet connectivity in order to realize CEZA’s original dream of having an industrial park. Lambino is very much aware of this.

To the mix, as part of the Cagayan Freeport’s medium-term and long-term development plans, Lambino has thrown in the idea of a six-lane freeway and a railway alignment from Tuguegarao City to the towns of Lal-lo, Aparri, Claveria and on to Santa Ana for both commuter and cargo services; the expansion of CEZA’s territorial jurisdiction encompassing the municipalities of the First and Second Congressional Districts of Cagayan, with the dredging of the mighty Cagayan River and the construction of four-lane highways on both sides of the riverbanks; and the development of the Port of Aparri and the Port of Claveria as major international seaports and container terminals.

Lambino has his own team to take care of the details of such plan, even as he gets really busy promoting CEZA’s virtues and strengths and getting commitments from major investors to form the future building blocks of a rejuvenated and sustainable CEZA, as a financial, commercial and industrial center in northern Philippines and not just being known for gaming and casino operations.

A quick visit to the Cagayan Freeport will reveal how much work there is to be done, but being the builder of dreams that he is, Lambino pursues his initiatives with uncommon persistence.

CEZA’s rich environment and hardworking highly-skilled people are invaluable assets in Lambino’s marketing efforts.

One thing that lingers after a visit to Cagayan province is its natural beauty.  There are few spots in Luzon that could rival its forest trails and enchanting caves – which are stuff for the hardy adventurers –and white sand beaches for the sun-worshippers. Even for lovers of art, history, religion and architecture, Cagayan has something to offer – native handicrafts and its centuries-old churches and ruins.

The diverse flora and fauna, coral reefs, grass meadows and mangroves of Palaui Island off the town of Santa Ana are known among television audiences.  Palaui was the exotic venue of the Survivor Series, entitled “Blood vs. Water”. It was voted the 10th best beach in the world by CNN Travel in 2015.

International Interaction and Engagement

Lambino is the Vice-President for International Affairs and leads the International Department of President Duterte’s ruling party, PDP Laban.  He was formerly the Party’s Deputy Secretary-General for Constitutional Reforms.

He was Executive Director and Secretary-General of Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats and represented the party as a delegate to the Centrist Democrats International (CDI) Executive Committee Conferences in Beirut, Lebanon (January 2012); in Rome, Italy (December 2011), and in Brussels, Belgium (June 2011) and as representative to the various exchange programs with the Communist Party of China in the 1990s and 2000s.

He is the founding Chairman and President of the Asia Pacifica Oriente United Business Council, Inc.  He is also Vice-President and Corporate Secretary of the Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU).  Likewise, he is a Director of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Lambino also served as Chief of Staff of Sen. Loren Legarda during the late 1990s, Chief of Staff and Legal Counsel of former House Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and consultant in the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives in 2001 to 2016.

Board of Directors

Chairman: Sec. Ramon M. Lopez
Acting Chairman: Usec. Rowel S. Barba
Vice-Chairman: Katrina C. Ponce-Enrile
Members: Antonio Generoso Buendia, Jr.
Milton A. Alingod
Geary L. Barias
Arturo P. Bautista
Darwin A. Tobias
Shalimar D. Tumaru
Alfonso V. Lim
Allan U. Ty
Jaime Roque Escaño
Jose D. Balagan
Ernesto J. Fueconcillo
Corporate Board Secretary: Atty. Victoria M. Perez
Legal Basis: (CEZA) Republic Act No. 7922, otherwise known as “The Cagayan Economic Zone Act of 1995”