NEED FOR NEW CITY CENTERS
TO REDISTRIBUTE WEALTH
Sen. Francis “Chiz” said the government needs to build new city centers across the Philippines to create more employment opportunities outside the National Capital Region (NCR) and ease congestion in the metropolis.
Along with the creation of suburban cities, Escudero said the government should also pour in money to provide an efficient train system that will connect urban centers and increase people’s mobility.
“We have to start planning to integrate Metro Manila to potential urban centers in the country via an efficient train system connecting the metropolis to Bulacan, Pampanga up to Ilocos Norte in the north, and then Laguna, Batangas, down to Matnog, Sorsogon in the south,” said Escudero.
The same way can be done to connect provinces to Metro Cebu in the Visayas and to Bacolod City in Mindanao, which have enormous potential as new suburban cities, he added.
Dispersing the city center away from mega Manila is also envisioned to provide a long-term solution to the chronic traffic congestion in the NCR with focus on the construction of railway network since it is the most efficient and most economical mode of transportation.
According to Escudero, the government can capitalize on the expansion of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry to create what is dubbed as the “next wave cities” outside Metro Manila.
In 2012, the Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) together with the IT-Business Process Association of the Philippines (iBPAP) identified potential sites of ICT hubs beyond the metropolis based on “worker supply, telecom infrastructure and other factors necessary to sustain a local BPO industry.”
The program, which was put in place after the Philippines edged out India as the world’s largest exporter of voice-driven BPO, found Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Clark and Bacolod City as four major hubs for IT-Business Process Management services.
It also identified Baguio City, Davao City, Dumaguete City, Iloilo City, Lipa City, Metro Bulacan (Baliuag, Calumpit,
Malolos City, Marilao and Meycauayan City), Metro Cavite (Bacoor City, Dasmariñas City and Imus City), Metro Laguna (Calamba City, Los Baños and Sta. Rosa City), Metro
Naga (Naga City and Pili) and Metro Rizal (Antipolo City, Cainta and Taytay) as the “next wave cities.”
“The government can use the list as a guide to create new city centers all over the country. The idea is that Metro Manila would be like an old town surrounded by suburban centers all over the country,” said Escudero, who is leading all pre-election surveys for vice president.
To realize this, he said the government must put in place the necessary infrastructure that would translate to more opportunities outside mega Manila. “We should start putting together the blueprint for this. Our people outside mega cities deserve to experience genuine inclusive growth. They should not be left behind.”
Considered as a sunshine industry in the country, BPO is projected to create 1.3 million jobs and raise $25 billion in revenue for the Philippines by 2016.
“We should capitalize on the opportunities provided by the booming BPO industry to create new urban centers in the country. Doing so will not only help redistribute business investments but also decongest our main urban center that is Metro Manila,” Escudero said.
A study by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency in 2012 said the traffic problem in Metro Manila costs the country as much as P2.4 billion a day due to the lost productivity and potential income of people stuck in congested roads.
The amount will balloon to P6 billion a day by year 2030 if nothing is done to solve the problem, the NEDA said./MP