The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), in coordination with the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently conducted public scoping for the Programmatic Environmental Impact Assessment (PEIA) of the Master Development Plan (MDP) of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP).
PEIA is a written report done within the study area for an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) application.
The scoping of MDP was held on April 27-28, 2022 at the Multi-Purpose gymnasium in Barangay Centro, Sta. Ana, and LGU-Aparri Function Hall in Aparri, both in Cagayan Province, respectively
Sta. Ana Multi-Purpose gymnasium.
LGU-Aparri Function Hall.
For those who are unfamiliar with the CSEZFP, this freeport occupies the whole town of Sta. Ana, Cagayan, likewise, covers the far-off islands of Fuga, Barit, and Mabbag in Aparri town — with its entirety of roughly 54,000-hectares.
During the virtual scoping, Mr. Leonardo Cruz, Head Technical Assistant/OIC for Cagayan Offices welcomed the 144 participants and thanked them for their participation in the scoping for the MDP of CEZA.
“It is a great honor to witness and discuss the basic information, project rationale, and MDP of CEZA,” HTA Cruz said adding that having a public scoping is vital in order to gather issues and concerns about the agency’s projects for the freeport.
According to Mr. Cruz, CEZA aims for inclusive development for nearby communities, local government units, and other stakeholder partners of the agency – as part of its mandate to improve the quality of life of the people in the Cagayan Valley Region.
Conducting public scoping is a compliance with the guidelines on public participation under the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) system following DENR Administrative Order No. 2017-15.
It is an early stage for an overview of the proposed project, actions, gathering of issues and concerns, and other relevant information on the scope of work and terms of reference of the MDP. It is a critical step for the preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which is the next step after public scoping.
This is to evaluate what are the impacts on the environment, and the improvements needed to address the issues and concerns about the projects of CEZA.
During the open forum, Mr. Cir Rodney Cacatian, Department Manager A for Management Services and Engr. Avelino T. Natividad, Division Manager A for the Environmental Management Division (EMD) answered all the questions raised by the participants regarding the MDP.
While some participants expressed their concerns about the scope of the study, specifically the environmental impacts, Cacatian and Natividad assured them that all their concerns would be addressed and considered in the preparation of the EIA report.
Natividad also assured that all developments to be undertaken by CEZA will comply with the required environmental laws for the MDP.
Moreover, Avelino said communities that might be affected by CEZA projects will be assisted by the government. For environmental concerns, the engineer said the projects will be carefully reviewed by the DENR as part of the EIS process.
Participants, upon hearing the rationale of the MDP of CEZA, were pleased.
Sta. Ana residents who participated in the scoping were happy with this remarkable development in their town as Cagayan Freeport is envisioned to be a major transshipment point, agro-industrial growth zone, and tourist destination, among others.
Meanwhile, the investment promotion agency said there are also major infrastructure projects for the islands of Barit, Fuga, and Mabbag in Aparri to stimulate tourism activities and accelerate economic growth in the said areas.
Secretary Raul Lambino, CEZA administrator and CEO said that all these projects of the agency are expected to increase investment in the Zone and create more jobs for the Cagayanos.
With CEZA’s MDP as a guide for the future development of Cagayan Freeport, inclusive growth will be achieved not only for Region 2 but also for the entire Northern Luzon,” Secretary Lambino said. (with inputs from LIZ LAGNITON, CEZA Writer and MICHELLE AGABIN, Acting Head of IPD)