The consistent concentration of growth from three regions reveal the need to address inequality in the distribution of development within the country, according to the Natnal Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the National Capital Region (NCR) remains the top contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 2010-2015 followed by Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (CALABARZON) and Central Luzon, primarily due to the expansion of the industry and services sectors and obvious proximity to NCR.

The share of NCR in GDP grew to 36.5 percent in 2015 from 35.7 percent in 2010, while CALABARZON and Central Luzon posted shares of 17.2 and 9.3 percent, respectively, in the same year.

In 2015, only these three out of 17 regions, have their per capita GRDP above the national average of P74,770 (at constant 2000 prices). NCR is by far the richest region with a per capita GRDP of P219,114. This is about 2.9 times the national average and more than twice the level of the next richest region, CALABARZON with per capita GRDP of P92,285. The NCR’s per capita GRDP is 16 times that of the poorest region, ARMM with a measly per capita GRDP of P13,695.

 “These three regions constitute about two-thirds of the Philippine economy’s output, which means the 14 other regions share just a third of GDP. We cannot continue to focus development on these three regions and expect to reduce massive socioeconomic inequality,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

Conversely, the regions with the smallest contributions to the GDP were the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), CARAGA, and MIMAROPA. This despite the rapid growth posted by CARAGA in the past six years, the 6.7 percent growth of ARMM in 2010, and the growing tourism service sector of MIMAROPA.

Addressing spatial and socioeconomic inequality requires linking lagging regions with leading ones through connective infrastructure such as transportation, communications, and information technology, Pernia said. This way, it is much easier and cheaper to transport goods into larger markets in bigger cities and even overseas and enable people to access employment opportunities, he added.

Apart from infrastructure, it is also important to link economic sectors – agriculture, services, and industry, particularly manufacturing, within a region, Pernia said. “For example, local small farmers can be organized and supported so they can supply food or raw materials to bigger businesses like food manufacturers and restaurant and grocery chains. This has already been started in selected provinces through the Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program (ASAPP). In Tuburan, Cebu, for instance, local coffee growers were provided technical assistance so that they can supply the requirements of a large local coffee chain,” said Pernia, who is also NEDA Director-General.

“We must rebalance regional infrastructure investment and growth opportunities to reduce inequality and poverty in the whole archipelago. This will allow more Filipinos throughout the country to participate in the growth process and ensure that no one is truly left behind,” he said.