Future Investment Hub

Over the next decade, Isabela is projected to become the Agro-Industrial Capital of the Philippines. The currect provincial officials, led by Governor Bojie Dy and Vice Governor Rodito Albano, have taken steps to make this goal attainable.

In support of President Aquino’s commitment to the development of the countryside, three Cabinet Departments (Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Environment and Natural Resources) have adopted the Convergence Strategy to unify interventions in sustainable rural development.

Recently, Gov. Dy and representatives of the three Cabinet Secretaries launched the Local Convergence Agro-Enterprise Cluster in Isabela consisting of three commodity clusters – rice, sugarcane and coffee. A total of P 8.48 billion is required for three projects pinpointed under the Enhanced National Convergence Initiative involving 12 towns in Isabela: irrigation, sugarcane industy development for renewable energy, and coffee production support.

Under Isabela’s Coastal Develoment Project, a world-class industrial and tourism complex is being built in Maconacon, Divilacan, Palanan and Dinapigue. Development of this area is being undertaken to ensure that village life in the four affected municipalities will continue to pulsate. To complement the two air transportation facilities in Coastal Isabela, an efficient road and network is being implemented while respecting the rights and ancestral domain of affected indigenous residents who want to keep the natural environment well-preserved and sustainable.

Plans are underway to revive the “Isabela Special Agro-Industrial Zone Act of 2004” which was passed by the House of Representatives but did not reach third reading in the Senate at that time. Enactment of this proposed bill would accelerate the growth of Isabela through the establishment of a special economic zone in Barangay San Luis, Cauayan City.

Two other developments are worth watching since they could most likely serve as catalysts to spur the further development of Isabela’s economy.

In his 2010 State of the Nation Address, President Aquino identified projects put forward by interested investors “like a toll expressway from Metro Manila to Cagayan valley without the government having to spend a single peso.” He was referring tot eh P13.6-billion, 456-kilometer North Luzon East Expressway (NLEE) proposal of the San Miguel Group. This superhighway from Quezon City to Tuguegarao City would pass the major cities and towns of Isabela, and cut travel time by more than half. The NLEE’s first phase from Balara, Quezon City to Norzagaray, Bulacan has already started construction. It will benefit Isabela in the same way the SCTEX expressway has done wonders for Subic, Clark and Tarlac.

An even more exciting propect is the annexation by the Philippines of a territory called Benham Rise within 2012. The 13-million hectare undersea region east of Isabela and Aurora provinces is being claimed by the country as part of its exclusive economic zone when it lodged its claim in 2009 with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLOS). No other claimant-country has come forward. If the UNCLOS recognizes the Philippines’ claim, Benham Rise will add 50% to the country’s territorial area. Early indications show high levels of natural gas, and if oil is found there, it will make the Philippines self-sufficient in fuel and might even become a petroleum exporter. Like the Malampaya gas fields which have benefitted Palawan province where they are located, Benham Rise will ultimately be beneficial to the Isabeliños and the rest of the Filipinos.


Indeed, the future looks bright for Isabela as a premier investment hub in Northern Philippines.