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Administration Senator Francis Tolentino is pushing for the expansion of the the so-called “Pharmaceutical Zones” under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), in the light of the national government’s plan to procure millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine outside the country.

In an interview with veteran broadcaster Jon Ibañez over PolitikoTV’s “Balitaan at Kamustahan,” Tolentino urged authorities, particularly PEZA to fast-track the expansion of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Zones or Pharma Zones in the country to aid in the growth of the medical industry.

According to Tolentino, establishing a Pharma Zone outside the National Capital Region (NCR) will not only decongest the traffic within Metro Manila and nearby provinces, but would also spur investments in the medical industry, facilitate access to innovator drugs for critical illnesses at affordable prices, and hasten socio-economic growth and infrastructure development amid the current crisis due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

The senator emphasized the need to stimulate growth of pharma enterprises situated in eco-zones, particularly those in Bulacan.

“Andun na yung mga local laboratories natin… hindi lang naka-expand. So kung ito ay ating matutulungan at mapapalaganap, uunlad yung pharmaceutical industry natin. Hindi na tayo pakapa-kapan kapag ganitong epidemic o pandemic,” said Tolentino.

“Makaka decongest din ito sa Metro Manila. Ang laki ng na occupy nila sa Pasig at Mandaluyong, nandyan lahat… kung ma-ikacluster natin ito sa Bulacan o Cavite, e luluwag talaga ang isang bahagi ng Kalakhang Maynila,” he added.

In his Senate Resolution No. 580, Tolentino said there is an urgent demand to further develop the medical industry in the country in order to effectively respond to the needs of our people, especially those in the marginalized sectors.

During Senate’s budget deliberations last month, Tolentino said expanding PEZA’s Pharma Zone would be a strategic move since pharmaceutical giant Moderna has already expressed interest to establish a laboratory that will manufacture COVID-19 vaccines to cater the needs of nations affected by global pandemic, according to a letter from Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez.

The First Bulacan Industrial City, which was established in 1991 and dubbed as the “Pharma City of the North”, currently houses several firms, such as Llyod Laboratories, Lumar Pharmaceutical, Pascual Laboratory, Cosmetique Asia, Cargill Philippines, Northfields Laboratories, Transcend, and Medi-RX Laboratories. The Phase II expansion of the Bulacan Industrial City, which would house the proposed Pharma City II, is just awaiting the go-signal from the Office of the President. (JCC)

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