November 21, 2017

Speaking to high school students and teachers from around the country on Sunday, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary for Regional Development Adoracion Navarro underlined the importance of the National Spatial Strategy in achieving the country’s long-term vision to be an upper middle-income nation.

“The National Spatial Strategy is, among others, a traffic reduction strategy. By creating economic opportunities in areas outside the metropolis, we are able to reduce the traffic,” Navarro said.

Navarro spoke on the second day of the 14th National Youth Congress, an economics forum organized by the UP Economics Society (UP Ecosoc) and the UP School of Economics Student Council (UP SESC).

The Philippine Development Plan 2017- 2022 is the first socioeconomic blueprint of the Philippines to employ a National Spatial Strategy. This strategy takes into account population trends, economic activities, and services in defining the country’s desired spatial structure. It anticipates and prepares a network connecting metropolitan centers with regional centers and sub-regional centers.

Examples of metropolitan centers are Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao where commercial, financial, and administrative activities are concentrated. Their services and facilities serve the country’s domestic and international requirements.

Having the most direct linkages to the metropolitan centers are regional centers such as Baguio City, Puerto Princesa City, and Tagbilaran City, which have markets that are large enough to support a range of services and investments. Subregional centers, on the other hand, serve as “market catchments of regional centers.”

Navarro mentioned Marawi City as an example of a sub-regional center, particularly as a higher education hub.

“The mention of Marawi may have evoked in you images of the destruction there due to conflict. We will bring back Marawi to its former glory as a higher education hub,” she said, noting that NEDA will lead the planning of activities toward the formulation of the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program.

Another component of the NSS, she said, is improving linkages among settlements and key production areas in order to “equalize opportunities across space” and increase people’s access to jobs and services.

“So you see, the National Spatial Strategy seeks to address socioeconomic inequalities by linking lagging regions with leading ones, rather than forcing a uniform dispersal of development, which can create diseconomies and inefficiencies,” Navarro said.

Responding to a student’s question on traffic, she also mentioned that the government’s effort to spread economic growth to other parts of the country is a strategy, among others, to decongest Metro Manila and alleviate traffic congestion.

The NEDA official likewise encouraged the youth to take part in pushing for the full implementation of the National Spatial Strategy, the Philippine Development Plan, and the regional development plans.

“Lobby your local governments to implement the PDP, the RDPs, and the National Spatial Strategy. Invite experts on regional development—including experts from NEDA regional offices—to conduct talks in your schools. And partner with organizations to address concerns in your regions, starting in your own community or barangay,” she said.