By Christina Mendez, The Philippine Star
Sen. Richard Gordon has filed a bill seeking to expand the incentives granted to investors in the Clark, Subic and Poro Point special economic zones through the extension of uniform incentives granted by the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992.
Gordon said the bill would clear the "uncertainty among many investors" caused by recent Supreme Court rulings on "the lack of an express legislative grant of incentives" to investors in those special economic zones.
"Because this unexpected development has been perceived as suddenly changing the rules in the middle of the game, some investors have threatened to shut down operations and lay off workers, with some already contemplating to leave the country," Gordon said in a statement.
According to Gordon, "if this matter is not addressed soon, then development in these special economic zones will come to a halt as investors will be inclined to locate elsewhere."
The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 7227, otherwise known as the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, to clearly provide for incentives to investors in the Clark Special Economic Zone and the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone and to provide "uniformity of incentives as well."
It also seeks to provide for an express grant of the freeport status to the Poro Point Special Economic and Freeport Zone, "thus ensuring the free flow or movement of goods and capital within, into and exported out of Poro Point, with the same incentives as the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone."
In his bill, Gordon proposed an amendment to RA 7227, providing that "businesses and enterprises within the Subic Special Economic Zone may also avail of the incentives as provided under Republic Act No. 7916, as amended, or the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.
Another proposed amendment provides that business establishments operating within Clark Special Economic Zone and other special economic zones shall be entitled to the incentives as provided for under the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.
A third proposed amendment provides that the Poro Point Special Economic and Freeport Zone shall be subject to the same policies as the Subic Special Economic Zone. The Poro Point Special Economic Zone shall have the same Freeport status and enjoy the same incentives as the Subic Special Economic Zone.
In proposing the amendments, Gordon referred to the decisions of the Supreme Court in Coconut Oil Refiners Inc. vs. Torres rendered on July 29, 2005, and on John Hay Peoples Alternative Coalition vs. Lim on Oct. 24, 2003. In both decisions, the High Court noted "the lack of an express legislative grant of incentives to investors" in the Clark Special Economic Zone and other special economic zones.
"To assuage the fear of investors brought about by the recent Supreme Court decisions and to ensure the continued development in these zones, passage of this bill is earnestly sought," Gordon said