Then Cagayan Rep. Juan Ponce Enrile was the principal author of a 1994 bill in the House of Representatives, which proposed the creation of the Special Economic Zone and Freeport (Cagayan Freeport), with the aim to boost economic development in northern Philippines.
The bill was signed into law by then President Fidel V. Ramos the following year and was known as Republic Act No. 7922 or the “Cagayan Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.
The law created the state-owned and controlled corporation Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza), which runs the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port.
Enrile expected the free port to attract foreign investors from Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan as well as spur tourism and create thousands of jobs, increasing the region’s income.
In his sponsorship speech, Enrile said the proposed economic zone and free port would serve as the “fulcrum of Cagayan Valley’s development.”
The free port in Cagayan province, located at the northeastern tip of the country, is surrounded by Balintang Channel, China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
It spans across the municipality of Sta. Ana and the islands of Fuga, Barit, Mabbag in the municipality of Aparri.
The free port operates as a separate customs territory similar to Hong Kong, Singapore, Lubuan in Malaysia and Hamburg in Germany.
“As an economic zone, it aims to develop the whole area into a self-sustaining industrial, commercial investment, financial and tourism-recreational center and, likewise, with suitable retirement/residential areas,” Ceza said on its website.
The economic zone has more than 100 locators, most of which are engaged in interactive gaming and support services.
Further, it said the free port was benefiting from its location, which is near the lucrative markets of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and China. Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer Archives, ceza.gov.ph