Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport
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The Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport, also known as APECO, was established by virtue of Republic Act No. 9490, otherwise known as the Aurora Special Economic Zone Act of 2007. It is being supervised and managed by the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority into a self-sustaining industrial, commercial, financial, and recreational center, with a suitable residential area, in order to create employment opportunities around Casiguran, and to effectively encourage and attract legitimate and productive local and foreign investments.
APECO is located in the municipality of Casiguran in the province of Aurora, a coastal town in the eastern seaboard of the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Aurora is enveloped within the provinces of Isabela, Quirino, and Nueva Ecija. It is esteemed as the only Economic Zone facing the Pacific Ocean, an ideal starting point for the inflow of commerce in the Northeastern quadrangle of Luzon. Aurora Province is a 328-kilometer land area facing the Pacific Ocean ornamented with natural wonders. The Ecozone was purposely situated in the bay area of Casiguran, a naturally protected enclave cradled by the Sierra Madre mountain range and the 12,000-hectare San Ildefonso Peninsula. Casiguran and Baler, the latter being the capital of Aurora, are among the oldest municipalities of Aurora with a combined population of about 53,000. Fishing and farming are considered the major industries of the province.
Land Area and Infrastructure Development
APECO has a total of 496 hectares in the mainland of Casiguran and an additional 12,000 hectares in the San Ildefonso, Peninsula. Because of its pristine location and natural beauty, this special ecozone is being promoted as an eco-friendly and tourism ecozone.
At present, APECO is undertaking the development of the phase one of the ecoze consisting of 25 hectares that include the construction of a 3-star hotel and the administration building.
The second phase will involve the construction of infirmary building and other infrastructure facilities like telco and BPO facilities.
APECO was approved without consultation allegedly, with tribal groups, which is contrary to Filipino law. The Dumagat indigenous group, who have lived there since the 1900s, subsist on hunting, gathering and fishing and need vast forests and coasts to survive. They are opposing the development, and are asking the Supreme Court to cancel the project. Their protest and concerns are the subject of the 2014 documentary "The March to Progress in the Philippines" by Ditsi Carolino.
- Carolino, Ditsi. "The March to Progress in the Philippines". Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- 'The March to Progress in the Philippines' documentary
- The Official Website of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority
- Aurora Pacific Ecozone (APECO) Investor Video
- The Official Website of Philippine Senator Edgardo J. Angara