STANDARD EDITORIAL: BEYOND 'IMPERIAL MANILA'
MANILA, JULY 26, 2006 (STANDARD) ONE of the key points of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s State-of-the-Nation Address was the creation and development of five “super regions” to exploit the country’s geographical advantages and fuel progress outside, in her words, “Imperial Manila.”
Under the plan, the country will be divided into five areas based on the relative advantages each one has. Her address detailed the blueprint to create the North Luzon Agri-Business Quadrangle to attract agri-business investments; the Metro Luzon Urban Beltway to strengthen the nation’s industrial centers; the Central Philippines area as a tourist hub; the Mindanao region as the south’s agricultural and fisheries capital; and a Cyber Corridor.
Pursuing the development of the super regions underscores the importance of promoting growth and creating jobs all over the country. Economic figures for 2005 showed that the National Capital Region still accounted for a bulk of the country’s gross domestic product at 31.9 percent, just 1.9 percent short of the entire island of Luzon outside NCR.
Also, the country’s administrative capital had the highest gross regional domestic product per capita at P35,742, or almost double the amount of the second-highest total of P17,919, which was posted by the Cordillera Region. The NCR’s growth rate of 7.1 percent is in stark contrast to the average growth rate of the rest of the 16 regions, which is a mere 3.8 percent.
These two sets of figures illustrate that economic development is seemingly monopolized by Metro Manila. The relative growth of the nation’s capital is matched by slower progress in the provinces, a sad reality that hopefully can be addressed by the super regions plan.
Aside from economic development, another pressing issue that the concept of the super regions can hopefully tackle is the problem of urbanization. Seventeen percent of the country’s entire population lives in only three metropolitan areas: Manila, Cebu and Davao. The sources of income and livelihood in other areas, one of the main goals of the super regions plan, will make the three cities livable again, while paving the way for other economic hubs that can make the migration of people more balanced.
This ambitious plan can definitely be the catalyst for growth that will not exclusively belong to Manila.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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