By Erwin V. Villacruz
NAGA CITY --- Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of putting up an economic zone within a developed area in an upland barangay of this city, the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) sees the brighter side of the project and accordingly endorsed its development.
During its regular board meeting Thursday last week, the officers of the local chamber voted unanimously to support the development of the Naga City Industrial Park in Bgy. Pacol, Naga City, particularly within the vast estate of Haciendas de Naga, a recreational and leisure hub that features a water resort and golf course and range, among others.
Engr. Emeterio ‘Boy’ Aman, president of Enjoy Realty & Development Corporation that develops Haciendas de Naga assured the MNCCI that the proposed Naga City Industrial Park has been issued with an Environmental Compliance Certificate by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) last June 6, 2018, the latter having evaluated and assessed the the planned “industrial economic zone is technically sound and environmentally safe.”
Aman underscored that already his project has attracted its first locator from Japan, through its local firm, Fuji Industries Naga Corporation, to put up a plant for manufacturing for export at the site that will employ 500 workers per shift with 3 shifts per day in its initial operation. This will redound, he said, to 4,500 new employment within the first 5 years of the plant’s operation.
“If Fuji’s number will be patterned on future locators as far is employment is concerned, there will be a total of employment opportunity for 22,000 Bicolano [workers] even if only half of the area of proposed economic zone becomes occupied and fully operational,” Aman said.
What is even more noteworthy about the project is that the industrial zone will also be employing out-of-school youths (who can’t easily be accommodated in the various BPOs that have located in the city) who will be given training as plant workers and therefore may have the chance to pursue their college education while working,” Aman told the chamber officers. Incidentally, Engr. Aman was past president of the multi-awarded Naga-based business chamber.
He further underlined that the proposed park is in pursuance of the city government’s thrust to attract investments in manufacturing for export, termed as high-value engineering in this particular case by the Naga City Investment Board, and as a result of responding to the call on the private sector to initiate the development of industrial ecozones in the city and areas outside Metro Manila “to spread the benefits of industrialization more evenly in the country.”
As a real estate developer, Engr. Aman noted that congestion of industrial parks in Metro Manila and the Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) area is becoming worse and, as a matter of fact, many are returning back home or looking for other workplaces because of the high cost of living in these heavily industrialized areas, especially as far as housing/lodging is concerned. “Those who chose cheaper but more distant dwellings are forced to spend more time and money to commute. Also, workers are forced to leave their families behind because there are no available communities to sustain their family’s basic needs and facilities.”
The homegrown engineer first focused on subdivision development here before considering to venture into the industrial segment. He said his proposed ecozone will come along with a township support plan that will put up low cost/socialized housing “based on the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan to address workers’ need for resettlement area.”
The other proposed areas in addition to now existing commercial, residential, and institutional components will establish a better living condition for the workers and their families, he added.
But there is one problem that the proposed economic zone is facing now: the city’s so-called environmentalists who oppose the putting up of the plant because there will be trees to be cut to give way to the widening of the road and construction of new access routes within the upland barangays, including those that lead to the proposed industrial plant project, that will require bigger vehicles to transport finished exportable products from the proposed plant.
The environmentalists also fear about polluting the earth that the industrial park may create, especially the water sources or run-off that emanate from Mt. Isarog.
Aman explained that the road widening project had been programmed and approved by concerned agencies even before his industrial park project was conceived. He also pointed out that the environmental clearance certificate and other clearances and permits that he had accordingly secured and complied with will bear out the soundness of the project as far as environment care is concerned.
He said that as an experienced real estate developer, he has become even more concerned with protecting and sustaining the environment and has planted more trees and plants as any die-hard environmentalist may have done.