ORMOC CITY – The Regional Development Council (RDC) in Eastern Visayas has created technical working groups that will identify specific programs and projects that will be implemented to make way for the establishment of the much-delayed Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone (LEIZ).

RDC-8 Chairperson Lucy Torres Gomez said lawmakers from Eastern Visayas are united in pushing for the enactment of the bill creating LEIZ into a law after attempts in the 18th Congress failed.

“It is one of the projects that we really want to see light of day, that we will have our own industrial zone,” Gomez told media after the council meeting on Monday. “It would be very good for the region.”

The House of Representatives, on a vote of 255-3, approved on third and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 24 last December 12, 2022 converting the Leyte Industrial Development Estate (LIDE) in Isabel, Leyte into a special economic zone to be known as the Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone (LEIZ). The zone will consist of an industrial estate, export processing zone and a free trade zone.

LEIZ seeks to develop a full integration of the copper industry value chain including the manufacturing to optimize the vast copper reserves of the country, which is estimated at 4 billion metric tons (MT).

Under the proposed measure, LEIZ will be managed and operated by the Leyte Ecological Industrial Zone Authority (LEIZA), which shall have an authorized capital stock of PHP 2 billion. The bill offers foreign investors that will invest inside the economic zone with perks of at least $200,000.

Meylene Rosales, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), said the technical working groups will look into specific programs and projects such as business investment, infrastructure, social services and natural resources development.

“It is a big thing so it has to be concretized and translated into more specific terms in the form of what really are the projects that we can put in place like roads,” she said.

Rosales said a LEIZ masterplan has already been developed by consultants from Palafox Associates, which designed LEIZ to be the country’s first ecological zone offering an opportunity for sustainable industrial development that is anchored on the copper industry, and can be made as a template for future eco-industrial parks.

Under the masterplan, the 1,054 hectares industrial zone will comprise light and heavy industries; mixed-use developments that include retail, commercial, office, and residential spaces and one-stop shops; institutional developments; transport stations; nature reserves for agro-industrial development; parks and open spaces; and walkable and bikeable roads; among others.

“For environmental protection, the development will help establish a sustainable and circular economy for the copper industry,” the masterplan posted in Palafox Associates website indicated.

“It will support a fully integrated value chain from sustainable mining to downstream manufacturing, where value is optimized together with the development of domestically produced, copper-using commodities such as wire harnesses, high-efficiency motors and appliances, and power and distribution transformers to serve both local and global markets,” it added. According to the masterplan, the LEIZ will also feature other resource conservation components like urban agriculture, nature reservoirs, parks and green spaces, bike lanes, transport connectivity, bioswales, green roofing, and solar panels, among others. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail Dec. 26, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023 issue)