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Ex-CEZA chief: ‘I am happy to leave’

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan- Former Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) administrator and chief executive officer (CEO) Jose Mari Ponce said he is “happy” to leave the agency he headed for the past 12 years.

“I am happy to leave CEZA to a new chief who is considerate of my development plans. I am at ease to know that there will be a sense of continuity to what we have worked on in the last decade,” Ponce said.

Ponce formally turned over his office to lawyer Raul Lambino at CEZA’s main office in Pasig City on Monday, July 24.

The Malacañang Palace announced the appointment Lambino as the new administrator on July 13. Lambino is known in the lawyering industry as he was once a lawyer and spokesperson on former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Ponce said that he was able to “stimulate” the growth of CEZA during his stint.

He disclosed that when he took over CEZA in 2005, the company was in “moribund state, with negative income, heavy government subsidy and dilapidated infrastructures, if any.”

“This once losing entity ready to close has been transformed to a performing, well-regarded government entity in Region II and a highly attractive investment area,” Ponce said.

According to records, CEZA have remitted so far P1.42 billion of dividends and corporate income taxes to the national government since Ponce took over.

In 2016, the company remitted P241.926 million to national coffers, the 11th highest of the 20 government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) who submitted their shares so far.

The agency’s press relations chief Joyce Calimag said CEZA, under Ponce’s watch, was freed from government subsidy, giving a steady growth of capital investments, employment and stirring local economic activities in the area.

“He also made CEZA become the pioneer interactive gaming jurisdiction in Asia and internationally recognized as one of the top, reputable interactive gaming jurisdictions in the world,” Calimag said. Raymon Dullana/Northernforum.net

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