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Cagayan promises better infrastructure, security

Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) CEO Raul Lambino told a forum that CEZA is implementing initiatives and various infrastructure support projects, particularly the rehabilitation of existing service facilities and the opening of its newly-built airport to international and domestic air travel early next month. The authority wants to promote the zone as a new growth center for the North and the next transhipment and logistics hub in the Asean region, it said in a press release.

Lambino said he will jump start the construction of a multi-storey corporate center; a world class medical center; a boutique hotel and duty free premium outlets, as well as a power plant, expressways; IRs; water, sewerage and waste services.

He said CEZA would also help beautify the host town of Santa Ana with attractive streetlights, widened roads and improved landscape to lure local and foreign tourists.

CEZA said at least 20 of the 54 attendees at the forum signalled they were willing to local their business process outsourcing operations to the zone.

CEZA’s initiatives come amidst a shakeup in online gaming regulation in the Philippines, prompted by a vow to crackdown on illegal gambling by President Rodrigo Duterte. Up until late last year, CEZA, through its master licensor the First Cagayan Leisure & Resort Corp., and the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone were the main regulators for the online gambling industry in the country. The online gambling firms are only able to offer their products outside of the country and in theory, operations were supposed to be based in the actual economic zones. However, given the limited infrastructure in these areas, most online gaming firms were operating out of the more sophisticated business outsourcing centers in Manila.

Then, in late 2016, land-based regulator, The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., also began offering online licenses for companies offering their services overseas. These licenses, although more expensive, didn't restrict the companies' location. The confusion over overlapping jurisdictions has led to an exodus of online firms from First Cagayan, with many choosing to leave the Philippines altogether.

According to media reports, First Cagayan recently lost its status as exclusive master licensor, with full authority returning to CEZA itself.

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