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Sec. Katrina Ponce Enrile’s First Year Spearheading CEZA

On June 7, 2023, Secretary Katrina Ponce Enrile took the helm as the new Administrator and CEO of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA). With a rich background in corporate success, she has propelled CEZA towards modernization, economic resilience, good governance, and sustainable development.

Sec. Enrile’s vision, dubbed “Future-Proofing CEZA,” laid the groundwork for restructuring the organization, boosting support facilities, and attracting investments. This bold initiative aims to unlock vast economic and employment opportunities in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) while safeguarding against potential drawbacks.

Understanding that change begins from within, Enrile’s restructuring efforts focused on maximizing productivity and efficiency. Her commitment to good governance and transparency, coupled with a drive for sustainable development, underscores her leadership ethos.

Just one year into her tenure, Enrile’s impact is unmistakable. CEZA has become a champion of environmental stewardship, enforcing strict compliance with environmental laws, spearheading waste management and clean-up drives, and collaborating on various green initiatives. This holistic approach highlights her dedication to preserving the CSEZFP ecosystem.

As a key player in anti-money laundering efforts, CEZA achieved 100% compliance among its covered entities, including gaming operators and support service providers. This feat, praised by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), aligns with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s goal to remove the Philippines from the Financial Action Task Force’s Grey List.

CEZA has rolled out the “CEZA Interactive Gaming Rules and Regulations 2023” and the “CEZA Offshore Financial Technology License Rules and Regulations.” Integration with the Fiscal Incentives Registration and Monitoring System (FIRMS) streamlines business operations, and the upcoming Central Audit System for fintech and gaming will further enhance regulatory oversight.

Port Irene is undergoing upgrades to accommodate larger vessels, and elevators are being installed in the CEZA Corporate and Commercial Centers. Plans for a new CEZA Data Center Building are underway, and the main office is relocating to Makati City for better client accessibility.

Strategic partnerships are driving CEZA’s connectivity and infrastructure expansion. Notable projects include a world-class Communications Critical Infrastructure by Now Group and a township development with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD). A new international airport in Sta. Ana, Cagayan is also in the works.

In a bid to promote sustainable energy, CEZA has teamed up with Guangxi SPIC Overseas (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. for a 5-megawatt solar power project and Westfield Resources, LLC for a 10-megawatt liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant.

CEZA’s engagement with local communities is pivotal. Through community services and roles in environmental stewardship and tourism, CEZA uplifts socio-economic status and promotes responsible tourism, ensuring that development benefits all stakeholders.

Sec. Enrile’s proactive marketing efforts have showcased CEZA’s competitive edge. She has participated in foreign delegations, industry events, and investor meetings, putting CEZA on the global map. Highlights include attending Sigma Asia 2023 and 2024, SBC Barcelona, ICE London 2024, and Money 20/20 in Bangkok.

Hosting the US Business Executives for National Security and participating in the United States Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines and the Indo-Pacific Business Forum have further strengthened Philippine-US ties.

Additionally, hosting foreign dignitaries from Europe at the CSEZFP has strengthened Philippine-EU relations and expanded CEZA’s network of potential investment partners.

The results of these efforts are clearly shown in the positive figures for revenue, influx of investments and economic activities, among others. In conclusion, Sec. Enrile has undoubtedly demonstrated outstanding leadership in steering CEZA’s growth, modernization, and sustainable development. Her vision and achievements pave the way for CEZA to become a beacon of progress and a premier investment destination in the Asia-Pacific Region.

ANTI MONEY LAUNDERING COMPLIANCE

1. CEZA achieved 100% Compliance for Covered Persons with Anti Money Laundering Council.

2. Actions tasked to CEZA have been largely addressed as per report of the Asia Pacific Joint Group.

3. CEZA has been commended by AMLC and Department of Justice for our activities related to this.

4. CEZAs efforts have greatly aided in the directive of President Marcos to remove the Philippines from the Financial ActionTask Force’s (FATF) Grey List.

TOURISM

142,444 local and 12,622 foreign tourists visited our area from June 2023 to present.

ANTI CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN

1. Stopped the original project for Fit Out of CEZA Makati Office due to overpricing with savings amounting to ₱26,000,000 (from ₱90,000,000 to ₱64,000,000 project cost).

2. Corruption free infrastructure projects. Example on table below for Data Center including elevator and Data Center set-up compared to the previous administration’s projects with incomplete building components.

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

1. Released financial assistance for 59 CEZA employees amounting to P688,959, and financial assistance for 7 Sta. Ana residents amounting to P140,807.

2. Distributed food packs for 1000 evacuees and 1,000 pcs of galvanized sheets for typhoon victims.

3. Conducted Circumcision Operations for 93 individuals in Santa Ana.

4. Distributed educational materials to 776 kindergarten pupils.

5. Performed medical, dental and optical mission with 814 residents of Santa Ana.

6. Provided work and income for 200 Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) beneficiaries in coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

1. CEZA has facilitated the filing of 7 criminal cases for environmental violations in the CSEZFP in violation of PD705. 5 cases involving Nangaramoan, 1 in Blue Ridge, and 1 in Isla Sialo.

2. Facilitated with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) a series of trainings and workshops for the LGU, locators and our employees to educate them of the existing environmental laws, rules and regulations.

SECURITY

1. Created a Security Composite Team for enhanced security measures.
2. Denial of entry to foreigners without proper documentation.
3. Denial of equipment entry to be used for illegal operations.

MARKETING, PROMOTION & OTHER EVENTS

1. Hosted US-Based Business Executives for National Security (BENS).
2. Participated in Sigma Asia 2023 – Gaming.
3. Participated in SBC Barcelona – Gaming.
4. Participated in ICE London -Gaming.
5. Participated INTERPHEX OSAKA 2024-Manufacturing and Logistics.
6. Sent a delegation to SPARK Selangor, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia – Manufacturing, Logistics and Industrial Parks.
7. Sent a delegation to Money 20/20 – Fintech.
8. Attended US Presidential Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines.
9. Attended Indo-Pacific Business Forum.
10. Investment Mission to Langkawi, Malaysia for Marina.
11. Attended Defense Service Asia Exhibition and Conference.
12. Investment Mission to the United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi).
13. Attended Anti Money Laundering Asia Pacific Joint Group Conference in Bali, Indonesia.

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