MINDANAO 2016: Duterte’s ‘Exhibit A’ sees exponential rise in 2016

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 January) —  The Duterte administration’s “Exhibit A” – the City of Davao – grew by “leaps and bounds” in 2016 after the historic win in May 2016 polls of the first Mindanawon president who is “the perfect marketing ambassador for the city’s investment and tourism potentials,” the Davao City Investment Promotions Center (DCIPC) said.

Lemuel Ortonio, DCIPC in an e-mail to MindaNews said Duterte created the much needed buzz to unlock the potentials of the city as a key investment destination in the country.

There has been a deluge of inquiries from potential foreign investors, mostly coming from China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Malaysia, he said.

“For most of them, they knew nothing about Davao City before and would only often know of Manila and Cebu when Philippines is mentioned. PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) has created a buzz on Davao City and became the perfect marketing ambassador for the city’s investment and tourism potentials. With the increased awareness comes increased interest in Davao City for foreign investors to pour in new potential developments,” he said.

The DCIPC chief said that the city grew by 7 percent with 39,887 new and renewed businesses and a capitalization of P232.886 billion as of third quarter in 2016 higher compared with 37,094 recorded in the same period in 2015. Capitalization in the four quarters of 2015 reached P217 billion.

Ortonio said they have yet to establish what industries propelled the city’s growth, as they are still collating the data from the City’s Business Bureau.

“But it can be assumed that the retail business still remains to be the top industry in the city. This is consistent with the trend in the previous years. It can also be observed that more new investments are poured into agribusiness, property development, and ICT in the last five years,” he said.

Ronald Go, incoming president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) said the interest on real estate development is driven primarily by the expected demand for housing and office spaces over the next few years.

Antonio dela Cruz, incoming chair of the DCCCII told MindaNews on Friday that three multibillion-dollar Chinese investors were in the city last week to explore the possibility of investing in big ticket infrastructure projects here.

Dela Cruz did not disclose what specific projects these Chinese nationals are willing to invest in but added they are into bridge and port development.

He added these investors signified the interest to invest “billions of pesos” worth of infrastructure projects.

Dela Cruz, chamber president from 2014 to 2015, said he believes the visit of the Chinese investors was a result of Duterte’s state visit to China in October 2016.

Go and Dela Cruz will take over DCCCII on January 14, 2017, replacing outgoing president Bonifacio Tan and chair John Gaisano.

Improve ‘databanking’

Taking advantage of this current uptrend, Ortonio said that they are strengthening their information management and databanking services to provide investors not just with raw economic data but also with industry-specific analytics that will help them predict the viability and the return of their investments.

“With this, we want investors to know that their businesses or investments will flourish in Davao City,” he said.

Ortonio added that even as investments are already flowing into the city like never before, they do not want to sit idly by to wait until the next investor comes in.

He added they will be more aggressive in their marketing push by organizing more trade promotion activities which include, among others, investment and tourism roadshows with different business organizations and outbound business missions, as these are the thrusts of the presidential daughter and City Mayor Sara Duterte in her three-year term.

“The city government must not simply rely on receiving investment inquiries that are pouring in. It needs to be more proactive and take advantage of the spotlight the city has been receiving,” he said.

Private sector

Go said that the curiosity of the investors was piqued as to how the long-time mayor transformed the city into what it is today.

Duterte was mayor of Davao City for 22 years — from 1988 to 1998, 2001 to 2010 and 2013 to 2016.

“The most significant contribution of the Duterte administration this year is bringing in a lot of interest regarding Davao City and what it has to offer. When then Mayor Rody Duterte won and was elected as President, the interest to know where Davao City is, what Davao City is like and how Davao City was transformed under his administration as  City Mayor, has piqued the interest of practically everybody who is not from this city. And that has opened doors to opportunities for the Business community of Davao,” he said.

Asked about what issues the Duterte administration must address, Go suggested that the President must continue his campaign against corruption and red tape in government.

“Although the President has laid down his stance on this, there are those who continue to persist in their old ways for obvious reasons. Government and the private sector should work together in identifying these individuals and weeding them out of the system,” he said.

He said the proposed adjustment in the real property tax in the city will be one of the concerns that must also be addressed in the city.

“There are also concerns about business-related taxes and the probable increase of Real Property Tax which will surely affect everyone, most especially those with idle lands. Again government and the business community should work together to come out with a solution which effectively addresses the concerns of all parties affected,” he said.

Re-elected DCCCII executive vice president Sofronio Jucutan is urging President Duterte to focus on addressing traffic and improving public infrastructure like roads by adopting night-time shifts to fast track the construction period.

“If other countries can do it, why can’t we do it here? Why do we perpetuate the old style of digging roads and leaving them unrepaired  for weeks or months?,” he said.

Other issues that he wants the Duterte administration to focus on include, among others, a more comprehensive and more strict implementation of rules on garbage collection and management; equal administration of justice; heavier penalty on heinous crime; unrelenting fight against corruption; and rapid prosecution of those involved in economic sabotage and crime against humanity.

“Judgment should be given before the perpetrators die of old age, or the crime committed are forgotten,” he said.

He added that he wants the new administration to grant more soft credit loans to agricultural players.

He also wants the construction of highways and railways in Mindanao to take place immediately.

“It is long overdue compared with Luzon,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)