Angara defended 2011 budget for the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone
By Jason de Asis

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, December 2, 2010-Despite the appeal and strong opposition of Senator Sergio Osmeña and the Catholic priest in the prelature of Infanta to suspend the budget for the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport, the Senate approved the budget for next year in the recent last day of the marathon budget deliberations at the Senate.

The 2011 allocation of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and all its attached agencies in the Senate have been successfully defended by Senator Edgardo J. Angara, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Finance.

The Senator updated the Senate on the current progress of the project and enumerated the positive impact of the project on people and the land in Aurora during the period of interpellation for the budget of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO).
He outlined the major economic benefits to the people of Aurora and the nearby provinces saying that the opening of the free trade zone in Casiguran will open up almost a million hectares of land and water, which are rich investment areas in the Philippines that remain untapped.

Angara said that the project will provide access to the Pacific to the provinces of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, even Bicol and Isabela as the only harbor in the Eastern seaboard, asserting that the opening to the Pacific will provide opportunities not just to the people of Aurora, but to the entire Northeast corner of the Philippines which has remained undeveloped for the past three centuries.

During the budget deliberation, Angara reported the major roads between Casiguran, Dicasalarin and Baler are almost completely concretized for a much smoother travel through the arterial road system by the Department of Public Works and Highways, saying that the rapid infrastructure development was because of the proposed ecozone.

The creation of a coconut research and nursery facility called the Aurora Provincial Coconut Development Center which maximized the productivity of the province was cited by Angara stressing that the said nursery is currently generating thousands of coconut seedlings in an attempt to answer the rising demand from several areas in Luzon.

The rationale behind the reclamation of certain areas in Aurora was explained by Angara stressing that Aurora has a lot of cultural treasures that the government should take care whether ancestral domain, forest zone, marine reserve, or historical site.

“The government’s intention of taking over the areas is to prioritize their preservation and conservation,” Angara said. (Jason de Asis)