Mayor Abraham Ibba and JJC Group Development Asia Sdn Bhd President and Chief Executive Officer Jismit Bin Japong signed the Memorandum of Agreement for the creation of a smart city in the municipality of Bataraza at the Fersal Hotel on Tuesday, June 18 witnessed by officials of the local government of Bataraza and JJC.

The municipality of Bataraza is aiming to become a highly urbanized and world-class city as it anticipates an $8 billion investment on various infrastructure development projects by a Malaysian group.

The proposed investment was forged through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by Bataraza Mayor Abraham Ibba and JJC Group Development Asia Sdn Bhd President and Chief Executive Officer Jismit Bin Japong in Puerto Princesa City last Tuesday, June 18.

Under the agreement, JJC will develop 2,000 hectares of land in Bataraza with key components that include transportation hubs such as an airport, a seaport, an integrated transportation system, water treatment facilities, and power facilities.

Tourism facilities are also lined up with five unis of 5-star hotels and a resort, theme park, convention center, stadium, Formula 1 racetrack, cable car system, and development of eco-tourism products.

Commercial and residential spaces like shopping malls, a new city core, and various residential spaces will also be constructed, including a Bataraza Tower for the Local Government Unit.

With the proposal, Japong said JJC aims to develop a sustainable, resilient, and smart city, focusing on sustainable city development with smart connectivity, advanced infrastructure management, green spaces, environmental protection, and resilient planning.

He added that the company also looks to promote economics and tourism with the development of existing and new eco-tourism products, the creation of economic platforms, and the integration of technological hubs, to ensure long-term economic growth for Bataraza.

They also target enhanced public services, the education system, and public safety with technological integrations, innovative healthcare solutions, including international telemedicine, and high-quality educational institutions.

Japong further explained that they chose Bataraza to be the site of the project, which they aim to complete within the next five to seven years, because it is the nearest place to Sabah, which he said is around 170 kilometers from Kudat.

He also said the company sent a proposal to the city government of Puerto Princesa but encountered some technical problems.

Meanwhile, Ibba expressed gratitude and full support for the project, stating that Bataraza is very lucky to have been chosen by JJC as the investment site.

The project so far is the biggest, not only in Palawan but in the entire Philippines.

“So hindi lang kaming mga taga-Bataraza ang makikinabang dito kundi tayong lahat na taga-Palawan, at maging ang buong Pilipinas,” he said as he also called for Palaweños support.

“This is just the 2nd step, and mahaba pa ang lalakbayin natin gaya ng mga permits na kakailanganin, sa local permits walang problema, and then meron sa provincial at sa national,” he added, noting that the first step was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, and the next will be the groundbreaking by next month.