Twelve local and foreign companies pledge a total of P27.5 billion worth of investments in the City of Puerto Princesa that is expected to contribute in its economic growth. (Photo by Local Economic and Investment Promotion Office (LEIPO)

Twelve domestic and foreign companies have pledged to invest a total of P27.5 billion in Puerto Princesa City to help generate jobs for unemployed residents and ensure long-term economic growth.

The investment pledges were made official on September 25 in Manila by members of the private sector who attended the Business Forum that was organized by the city government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE).

Lorraine Banzuelo, development management officer IV of the Local Economic and Investment Promotion Office (LEIPO), said Monday that of the total figure, P3.7 billion will be invested by three large corporations, one of which is Philippine leading homebuilder Vista Land.

Vista Land by former senator Manny Villar is the developer of Brittany, CrownAsia, Camella, low-cost housing Communities Philippines, and Vista Residences.

It is currently constructing condominiums in Barangays Sicsican and Bancao-Bancao.

Banzuelo said integrated property developer SM Prime Holdings, Inc.(SMPH) is also investing P10 billion to develop its 1,200-hectare beachfront property on the west coast in Barangays Napsan, Simpocan, and Bacungan.

“Malaking company si SM Prime and they have properties on the west coast that will be developed into resorts,” she said.

Banzuelo said a modern aqua farm and an international humanitarian medical center will also rise in Barangay Sta. Cruz as part of the P10 billion investment of Green Asia Construction and Development Corporation.

Aside from building roads and bridges, ports and harbors, and other construction projects, the company is engaged in eco-tourism development, and urban and regional planning.

“Doon sa ginawang business forum, all investors presented their proposed projects and made their commitments sa mga gagawin nila. In short, nangako sila na magtatayo sila or maglalagay sila ng projects dito sa atin,” Banzuelo said.

The other companies that pledged investments are Oma’i Dang Maria, P10 million; APL Food Services, P15 million; Puerto Princesa Memorial Park, P50 million; The Elizabeth Residences, P200 million; Princesa Garden Island Resort and Spa, P450 million; Astoria Hotels and Resorts Group, P750 million; Adventist Hospital Palawan, P1 billion; YIBU Education Technology Co. Ltd., P700 million; and Allied Care Experts Medical Center, P1 billion.

Banzuelo said most of the investment projects are related to tourism, agriculture, food, fisheries, and education.

Banzuelo added that the city government committed during the forum to take care of the investors’ needs by ensuring “ease of doing business” in Puerto Princesa City.

“Kasama na dyan ang pag-alaga sa kanila (investors), ang pag-process ng business registration, for building permits, and for certificates of occupancy. Alam niyo ang sabi ng mga investors natin dito lang sila sa Puerto Princesa City nakaranas na hindi sila kinutungan at talagang smooth ang process ng kanilang mga papers,” she said.

In addition, she said the city government also wants the improvement of road networks, telecommunications, Internet connectivity, water, and energy supplies.

She said these are what the city government needs to be a competitive destination in the country.

“Kapag may ganito kasi hindi lang magkakaroon ng kita ang gobyerno kundi magbubukas ng maraming trabaho, para ‘yon ang pinakafocus niya — more job opportunities, employment. Kukuha sila ng permit at depende ‘yon sa capitalization nila. And another one is kapag maraming investors they will also attract other investors kasi makikita kung ano ang status nila dito. We are truly grateful na hindi tayo nahirapan maghanap at sila mismo makikita mo na sobrang interesado,” Banzuelo added.

Aside from the investment pledges, they are still waiting for around 50 business entities to make a decision and come in.

“Isang competitive na lungsod ang tinitignan natin — take note, marami pa dyan ang hindi kasama ang mga nag-signify na magi-invest. Siguro more than 50 pa sila,” she said.

In his speech, Mayor Lucilo Bayron said that this huge investment in the city will not only boost the economy but also open many job opportunities.

“We look forward to receiving them to the City of Puerto Princesa as they continue with their investments. These undertakings will not only help boost the local economy, but also generate employment opportunity. For me, we have more unemployed and underemployed than the employed ones. [These pledges] will be a big help because the investment can be equated to employment. So this is what we will gain,” Bayron said.