MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manileños complain about endless traffic jams? The only solution is to give other regions a bigger slice of the prosperity pie.
This was the proposal of presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte and his running mate Alan Peter Cayetano when asked how they would solve Metro Manila congestion during Rappler's "The Leader I Want" forum on Tuesday, January 20.
“We have to understand that we need to disperse. We have to open ports in Visayas, and for those getting their goods in Mindanao…. We have to open Mindanao, we have to open Visayas,” said Duterte.
Cayetano said that Metro Manila is jam-packed because Filipinos cannot find the same opportunities in their regions of birth. (READ:Duterte, Cayetano platform focuses on crime, economy)
The government spends a disproportionate amount of money for Metro Manila to the detriment of the rest of the country, said the senator.
Most of the country’s national agencies, best facilities, and hospitals are also found in the mega city, he asserted.
“They want to work in their own place, but everywhere in the Philippines, their budget is only 2-4% [of the national budget]…. Cebu, if you allowed them 10 years ago to bid out their own projects, they would have an MRT by now. Mindanao, if you allowed them to bid out their own projects, they would have a railway system by now,” said Cayetano.
The tandem proposed, as a short-term solution, to invest in more infrastructure in the Visayas and Mindanao in order to spur development there.
In the long-term, shifting to a federal form of government would allow regions outside Metro Manila to have more control on how they will develop.
In federalism, local government units are given more power over their resources and development plan. For instance, this would allow them to retain more of their income instead of giving it to the national government. They would be able to bid out their own projects instead of depending on national agencies.
This way, people will want to live in other regions instead of just in Metro Manila, thereby lessening congestion and spreading growth and development, they said. (READ: Duterte reveals plan to solve Metro Manila transpo woes)
For Duterte, his peace and order agenda ties up nicely with his and Cayetano’s desire for progress and prosperity for regions outside Metro Manila.
“I hold it as an article of faith that if you do not improve in the law and order, even if you have the money, you will get lost along the way. Nobody will want to invest in your city,” he said.
More than ensuring safety and security for investments, he would also invest in the agricultural sector and in small and medium enterprises by giving them loans and other forms of support. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.