May 24, 2018

Subnational regions should be at the forefront of Philippine development as the government implements its massive infrastructure program throughout the country in line with the National Spatial Strategy, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

NEDA said the recently released 2017 data on Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) by the Philippine Statistics Authority show that the Philippines is on the right track with respect to its regional development agenda.

According to PSA, all 17 regions of the Philippines posted positive growth in 2017, with the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)’s economy being the fastest at 12.1 percent, followed by Davao at 10.9 percent, and Central Luzon at 9.3 percent. Both CAR and Davao posted double-digit growth rates coming from the previous year.

CAR, Davao and seven others—Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), Western Visayas, SOCCSKARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Cotabato Province, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos City), and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao—posted growth higher than the National Capital Region’s 6.1 percent.

Despite the positive growth across the board, NCR continues to have the largest share of the country’s Gross Domestic Product at 36.4 percent.

“The government is now waging its biggest campaign yet—the Build, Build, Build—and it gives regions hope. They are getting a big share in the government’s infrastructure projects and programs,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

The end-goal of the government’s massive infrastructure program is to make the regions better connected, address socioeconomic inequities by linking lagging regions with leading ones, improve efficiency and productivity for further growth, and reduce disaster vulnerability, as stated in the National Spatial Strategy under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.

Pernia said that Cordillera’s actual GRDP more than doubled its target of 4.0-5.0 percent in 2017, with the recovery of its industry and agriculture sectors. He said that this was made possible by the government’s increased spending on public infrastructure and social protection. Increased investments in private construction also improved connectivity within the region and its neighbors, Pernia added.

Meanwhile, Davao’s growth, which has surpassed its targets for six consecutive years, was pushed by its construction, mining and quarrying industries.

“In Davao, there is a continuous boom in private construction, particularly for mass housing and property development, and in government infrastructure projects,” Undersecretary for regional development Adoracion M. Navarro explained. The mining sector in the region also posted a double-digit growth of 18.2 percent partly due to the increase in produced gold.

Navarro said Davaoeños are setting their sights on several Build, Build Build projects, including the Davao City Coastal Road, Davao Food Exchange Complex, Tagum-Davao-Digos line of the Mindanao Railway System, Davao-Samal bridge, improvement of the Davao International Airport, modernization of Sasa Port, Davao Fish Port Complex, and the New Agdao Public Market.

“The implementation of these projects will help spur economic growth and generate employment in the region,” Navarro added.

Similarly, planned major infrastructure projects in Central Luzon include the development of the New Clark City, Clark International Airport Terminal Building, and the Manila-Clark Railway.

Pernia noted that these projects are well aligned with the National Spatial Strategy under the PDP 2017-2022. The strategy anticipates future growth based on trends in population, economic activities, and services. It emphasizes that Metro Manila should be decongested and that growth must be directed to other regional centers.