IF elected president, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said he plans to create more economic hubs in the countryside to spread growth and progress, and speed up the country’s recovery from the impact of the two-year COVID-19 pandemic.
Presenting his “Bilis Kilos 10-point” economic agenda at the “Panata sa Bayan” Presidential Candidates Forum sponsored by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), Moreno said this will be pursued through the combination of the current administration’s massive infrastructure “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program and the equally successful “Public Private Partnership” (PPP) of the Aquino administration.
“BBB will continue but with PPP being revived, especially in the light of expected higher loan interest rates and higher foreign debt, which is now at 63 percent of our GDP (gross domestic product). A peso spent in Metro Manila will have much less economic multiplier effect than the same peso spent in the countryside,” the 47-year-old presidential aspirant pointed out.
To create more economic hubs, Moreno said he will pursue the following “doable and time-bound” targets to support these plans: Improve physical connectivity through LuzViMinda (Luzon-Visayas-Mindanao) trimodal transport systems; well-integrated kalye, kuryente, tubig at internet; make safe and potable water 100 percent accessible by 2026; and improve access to information and communications technology (ICT).
“Dapat ay patuloy na magkaroon ng pag-asa na itong mga pangarap ng mga ito ay mangyayari sa isang mainam, masinop at episyenteng pamamahala na siya rin naman ginawa namin sa Maynila,” said the Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer.
According to a report from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), there are currently more than 400 economic zones in the Philippines, each providing their own different fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to foreign investors. In June 2020, the Philippines announced the approval of 12 new economic zones, which will be managed by the Philippine Economic Zones Authority (PEZA).
In the same forum, Moreno said he will not support the proposed bill that will create a government-owned and controlled corporation to be known as the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA), whose functions he viewed as teeming with duplication.
Moreno flatly said “no” to the pending legislation when asked during the presidential candidates’ forum hosted by the KBP if he favored the bill.
According to Moreno, the BIDA bill will not see the light of the day if he’s elected president in the May elections.
“So, sa akin para hindi na tayo magdagdag ng gastusin sa gobyerno, huwag na tayo magdagdag ng bureau na meron na nag-eexist ngayon na sapat, epektibo at mga lokal na pamahalaan ang nakikinabang sa ekonomiya, trabaho at hanapbuhay at negosyo sa lugar na iyun,” the presidential candidate said.
“Kumbaga, let’s not fix something that is not broken. Hindi naman sira, kailangan pa ba natin ayusin? In fact, it’s the other way around—the national government should support the local government in that area,” he added.
Under House Bill 9826, which consolidated several proposals in the lower chamber, the BIDA will have corporate powers to, among others, contract, lease, buy, sell, acquire, own, or dispose of real property in the entirety of Boracay Island and the surrounding islets including Barangay Caticlan in the town of Malay in Aklan.
The bill, however, is opposed by the Aklan provincial government, religious groups, and various private organizations in the Visayas on grounds that it’s unconstitutional and was approved without consultation with stakeholders.
“Hindi lang boses ng mga stakeholders ang dapat kunin. Yung kita dyan eh ‘yun dapat ay mapagyabong doon sa local government na iyun. Marapat lamang na ma-enjoy nila yung yamang-dagat o turismo o mineral sa kani-kanilang pamahalaan,” Moreno stressed.
Boracay, considered the crown jewel of Philippine tourism, has been voted several times as one of the best, if not the best, beach destinations in the world.
In the same forum, Moreno also shared his plans to revive the country’s tourism industry sidelined by the COVID-19 health crisis in a bid to boost visitor arrivals from the pre-pandemic level of 8 million in 2019 to 16 million by the end of his term in 2028.
Under his administration, Moreno said he will pursue under the 10-point Bilis Kilos Economic Agenda the promotion of sustainable tourism, events-based tourism, policies to cushion the pandemic impact on tourism, national creative economy strategy, and tourism highways through the BBB and the PPP program.