New CEZA Chief Vows a Bustling Growth Hub

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat (Manila Bulletin) Published July 24, 2017

The new leadership of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has vowed to make this ecozone and freeport into a bustling economic growth center and tourist destination and a major transshipment and logistics hub in Northern Luzon.

“As the President’s personal choice, I will lead by example and turn the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport into his vision of a vibrant economic growth center that is efficient and clean and free of corruption,” said newly-designated administrator CEO Secretary Raul L. Lambino, who formally assumed the leadership of CEZA.

Immediately setting his priorities on his first day in office, Lambino said he would woo more investors to make the 54, 000-hectare plus Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport a veritable vehicle for industrial, commercial, and financial ventures and a favored investment and recreational center in Southeast Asia.

Lambino identified the repair of Port Irene, including the dredging of its heavily silted seabed, and the construction of additional wharves to expand its capacity, plus the modernization of the North Cagayan International Airport in Lal-lo town as “extremely important to spur development of the zone.”

He further said upgrading the power supply and Internet connectivity would boost the Freeport’s medium-term development plan.

This includes a package of initiatives, among them a railway alignment from Tuguegarao to the town of Lal-lo and to Santa Ana for both commuter and cargo services linking up with the rest of Luzon.

The Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, covering the entire towns of Santa Ana, including the island of Fuga, Barit and Mabbag in Appari, Cagayan, sit between the West Coast of North America and the Far East and Southeast Asia, and is just one hour away by plane from Hong kong, Taipei, and Macau and three hours from Tokyo.

Its strategic location at the northern tip of Luzon’s eastern seaboard, along major international shipping routes, could easily make the Freeport a major transshipment and logistics point for trade in the Asia-Pacific Rim, Lambino said.

The natural beauty of Cagayan Special Economic Zone, with its forest trails and pristine beaches and awesome landscapes are magnets for tourits, he added.

The popular television show, Survivor, has featured the island of Palaui off the town of Santa Ana, introducing its exotic beauty to a global audience.

The Survivor Series, entitled “Blood vs. Water” showed Palaui’s diverse eco-system of flora and fauna, massive coral reefs, grass meadows and mangroves for several weeks.

Palaui clinched the rare honor as the 10th best beach in the world by CNN Travel.

Lambino said he would push for long term investments that would create more employment opportunities in and around the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, in manufacturing, business processing management, agri-business, hotel and tourism, industrial parks, retirement village and townships for locators and workers, among others.

He would also seek the assistance of the national government to increase power supply connected with the national grid, expand the different connector roads leading to various tourists’ destinations, and tap the private sector in the development of the Freeport’s water supply and sanitation.

“This is a very challenging work,” he said.