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No conflict of interest in Apeco—Sen. Angara

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:57:00 11/26/2010

Filed Under: Edgardo Angara, Conflicts (general), Philippines - Regions, Investments, Government, Juan Ponce Enrile, Infrastructure, Alternative energy

THIS REFERS to the Inquirer?s editorial ?White elephant.? (Inquirer, 11/12/10)

I object to insinuations of ?conflict of interest? in supporting government initiatives in my home province Aurora, particularly the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (Apeco).
There is no conflict of interest on the presence of Angaras in the Apeco board. Being governor and Aurora congressman respectively, Bellaflor Angara-Castillo and Juan Edgardo Angara are on the Apeco Board by virtue of law, in their official capacity. This is the same case in all other ecozones, where the top local officials sit on the board.

Secondly, it is ridiculous to say that I am the CEO of Apeco and that I have personal interest in it. I take strong exception to the comparison to the C5 project. In all my public life, I have strived for honor and never used my position in government for private gain. I intend to continue and keep that.

It is only natural that I speak on behalf of the ecozone because I was the one who sponsored the law creating Apeco. Just like Senator Juan Ponce Enrile for Isabela and Senator Richard Gordon for Subic who strongly advocated the creation of freeports in their home province to bring in investment and spur development for their people, I have genuine concern for Aurora being an Auroran myself. I believe in the project and I know it will be for the good of the people of Aurora.

For many decades, Aurora and the provinces in the northeastern seaboard of Luzon have been neglected and left behind in terms of infrastructure. Apeco finally gives the region a chance to develop by opening up the Pacific and giving access to landlocked provinces like Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela and the rest of the Cagayan Valley through air, land and sea transport.

Apeco will create jobs and livelihood not only for Aurora but its neighboring provinces. It is the only economic zone in the Philippines that will harness ?green energy? such as solar, wind and wave energy. As a logistics hub, it is a very timely and strategic infrastructure investment for the Philippines. Trans-Pacific ocean traffic is expected to grow more in the next few years as China obtains more markets in Latin America. The Pacific is now becoming the most important ocean highway in the world.

This is the first time real development will come to eastern Luzon and provide a chance for a better life for its people. I can only hope that politics and myopic thinking do not get in the way of genuine progress.


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