<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

                                                               (File photo)



MANILA — The Philippines is eyeing to launch the pharmaceutical-medical device (pharma-dev) economic zones within 2024, with four locations across the country already under consideration.

At the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Tereso Panga said PEZA is now in the site selection stage.

“So, nasa site selection kami, establishment ng criteria. Mayroon sa Laguna, mayroon Bulacan, mayroon Tarlac, mayroon din sa Cebu (We’re now in site selection, establishment of criteria. There’s Laguna, Bulacan, Tarlac, and Cebu),” he said.

In a separate interview, Panga said PEZA is classifying this initiative as “urgent” in line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s proposal to establish general pharmaceutical ecozones.

“The goal is within one year. Urgent iyon kasi may nag-file na sa amin (This is urgent because a firm already filed) so we’re just awaiting the proclamation,” he said.

Panga shared that Japanese firms handling medical devices previously expressed intent to register with PEZA.

The dedicated pharma-zones are envisioned to be equipped with all necessary facilities, including cold chain, to ensure that operations of the locators are viable.

Panga said they will enjoy fiscal incentives such as four to seven years of Income Tax Holiday (ITH).

“After that, they will graduate to plus 10 years of special corporate income tax. Iyan ay kapag export-oriented sila (that is if they are export-oriented),” he said.

“Kapag domestic market naman (If it’s the domestic market), after the ITH period, they will graduate to five years of enhanced deductions,” he added.

In both cases, Panga said they would enjoy tax and duty-free importation, zero-Value Added Tax rating, and prompt facilitation of their shipments.

PEZA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are closely working to formulate a policy that would be incorporated into the planned ecozones.

“We will increase prolongation of the CPR (Certificate of Product Registration) or the LTO (License to Operate), the very necessary licenses for the pharmaceutical and medical device stakeholders,” FDA Director General Samuel Zacate said in the same presser.

“Without compromising safety, we will tailor-fit for them to comply and because the PEZA is here already, we will focus on exportation and part of it is for domestic use,” he added.