ORTIGOZA: How some mayors create economics opportunities

April 23, 2019 at 8:27 am Leave a comment


Major news magazines and newspapers printed in Imperial Manila have news about the newly acknowledged Guinness World Record’s tallest steel framed and engineered bamboo panels Saint Vincent Ferrer statue in Bayambang, Pangasinan.

Their news features jibe with the Holy Week as Filipinos went to their provinces and spend the long religious holidays and weekends there.

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I will not talk about religion here since I’m not competent about it. The only verses in the Bible I could memorize is John 3:16 and the other one whenever I quaffed a half  glass alcohol contained 80 proof 750 ml Tanduay and White Castle in high school and college’s “Verseculo Baso Kapitulo E.S.Q“.

E.S.Q is Extra Smooth Quality as come – on by Tanduay to young but poor drinkers like me.

I’m going to talk about the economics opportunity for the people created by local government units like the town of Bayambang to attract tourists to visit the historic town. The town was  5th Capital of the Revolutionary Philippine Republic during the Filipino – American War in 1899.

Last week I wrote about Bayambang under the administration of business tycoon and Mayor Cezar T. Quiambao as one of the top four richest first class towns in the 44 towns and four cities of Pangasinan.

“We have PhP506 million budget this year  where some come from the disposal of assets in Magsaysay,” he told the crowd from the public and private sectors who witnessed the inauguration of the proposed LGU housing project to be given to municipal hall’s employees in Barangay Bical Sur of the burgeoning town.

Quiambao told reporters that every year his family controlled corporations like Stradcom and other businesses like a mall,  pay more than PhP 80 million of their taxes  in the municipality.

Even the PhP250 million price tagged of the  50.23-meter statue to commemorate the 400th year of the establishment of Saint Vincent Ferrer Parish in Bayambang and the 600th death anniversary of the saint on April 5, 2019 was personally paid by Quiambao and his gorgeous wife actress Mary Clare Judith Phyllis “Niña” Jose-Quiambao, the multiplier effects that can be created by the mammoth statute could be incomparable.

“Attention: there is NO entrance fee to go inside and around the Prayer Park. FYI. Thank you, God bless you all,” I saw the post of Mrs. Jose- Quiambao at her Facebook account.

 The surge of people who motor to the pilgrims’ town like those vacationers who will make side trip  in Bayambang from their Manila to Baguio City’s rendezvous, will be a spark plug for more franchisees to own Jollibee, McDonald, Mang Inasal, Starbucks, Dunkin Donut, Yellow Cab Taxi, hotels, banks, gas stations, malls, and others to put shop there. That could spike employment in the town and even the province of Pangasinan and more business and real property taxes for the LGU.

The Saint Vincent statue will be a rival to The Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag perched on the hilly part of the tiny town Manaoag whose narrow streets are bane to pilgrims from various places of the country who have to wiggle out to the traffic congestion as they look for parking spaces for their cars.

Parking in the streets there are welcome sight for the personnel of the local government as they aggressively billed motorists whose pay go to the coffer of the municipality.

The surrounding areas of the Saint Vincent Prayer Park in Barangay Bani are still sparsely populated as I used to pass in a car from Dagupan City and the lighter traffic routes via Barangay Manat in Binmaley, San Carlos City, and the probably fifth class poor town of Basista whenever I was rushing to beat the time for the start of the the press conferences called by the mayor at his well-secured sprawling mansion in a village there.

Tourist and pilgrim magnet had been created by the City of Alaminos, Pangasinan under the watch of Mayor Art Celeste. I learned that before he became a mayor to the city that host the famous Hundred Islands, the LGU there collected only PhP5 million a year revenues from tourists who used the boats in visiting those pristine beaches and idyllic islets there. When Celeste became mayor I saw a post a news article that the City had collected P43.19 million from 547,412 visitors who visited the Hundred Islands National Park last year after the mayor spruced up the Lucap Bay’s wharf and improved the facilities there and those islands, and the construction of the 56-foot statue of Christ the Savior atop Pilgrimage Island (formerly Martha Island).

That’s 1000 percent spike for the fees collected from sightseers that included foreigners carried by huge cruise ships that ply the global routes!

Another fourth class local government unit in the mountainous area of Eastern Pangasinan had its mayor conceptualized and constructed for the town to manage the Balungao Hilltop Adventure.

The zipline there is the longest in Region 1. It offers too ATV Riding, Hiking, Mountain Climbing, Mountain Biking, Trail Walking, Trust Fall, Hot and Cold Swimming Pools, and Bungee Trampoline.

I read before that yearly, the LGU of Balungao earn Php10 million extra revenues for those sights.

Those extra monies, before the eyes of a political and economics kibitzers, are comparative advantages to pay for more medicines, doctors, nurses, and repairs of public school buildings to serve the under privileged in that poor town.

Despite earning more than PhP 10 million from the bangus or milkfish cages and the PhP 200 million a year, the small 37,000 populated mountainous western Pangasinan town mayor of Sual mulls a similar tourism come-one like Balungao’s  to further spike his local government coffer that has a budget of P350 million for this year.

“Each of the 32 farmer associations were given three kuligligs or small tractors, subsidized certified hybrid seeds, organic and chemical fertilizers, motorized water pumps, and ten big tractors to lessen their expenses but swell their income every harvest,” he told me about the advantages of an LGU that has wherewithal.

Arcinue moreover cited that each of his 19 villages had been given a brand new Toyota L-300 utility van to help the community, 12 brand new mini-dump trucks for the use of the barangays, a newly constructed 10 bed rooms hospital with one doctor and two consultant doctors to boot and three more surgeons to be hired, free medicines to his constituents, almost all roads in the town proper and villages are paved and concretized, 45% of the huge yearly budget goes to the salaries of this LGU’s workers where a job – order employee receives P355 a day and the department head gets P70,000 monthly in regular pay and allowances.

Many LGUs in the Philippines that are fourth and fifth class towns could only collect PhP 5 million a year business and real property taxes from their constituents who were too poor to pay their taxes because shops and jobs are scarce in the area.

 Thanks for the distribution of national revenues from the national government that these poor towns receive an annual Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) that runs to P50 million or more as it depends on the number of the population there and the size of the LGU’s area as based on the Local Government Code.

Even cities in the Philippines host other businesses that help increase their budget.

 Mayor Amadeo ”Bobom” Perez IV told me in 2013 that aside from his city receiving hundreds of millions of pesos from the national government, it had “a goose that lays the golden eggs” through the Urdaneta City University that gave the city’s extra PhP100 million yearly from the competitive tuition fees paid by the students that hail from the eight towns and one city’s Fifth Congressional District.

 Mayor Bobom explained that UCU used to give the city coffer PhP 200 million a year but because of the slump in the demand for Filipino nurses abroad the university delivered only more than P100 million to the city treasury a year.

When I was in Mindanao two weeks ago, I ruffled some feathers of some people there because I wrote on my blog that North Cotabato Province or Province of Cotabato is the No. 1 poorest province in Region 12 while it was No. 7 in the 81 provinces in the country based on the Top 10 Provinces with the Most Number of Poor Families by the 2015 Philippines Statistics Authority. In the 2018 PSA data that was published last week the rustic province was still considered as having the most number of poor households.

“Why are the leaders there not emulating how mayors in Luzon have done to draw people to visit their town and spend monies there?” I posed to myself.

Look at Tarlac City, it used to be called pee center by travelers from Manila to Baguio City and to Ilocos Norte and vice versa because the town used to be stopover of air conditioned and ordinary buses.

But when the LGU and some residents there like the Cojuangcos transformed the town into an economic zone, Tarlac became one of the richest city (city hood was in April 18, 1998) in Central and Northern Luzon areas with probably two billion pesos or more in annual appropriation budget (AAB).

Daley Dan Pasion, representative of Sumitomo, said the award winning Japanese firm started amid the Asian Currency Crisis in 1991 with 6,000 workers mostly assembling cars’ wiring harness around the world for Toyota, Honda, Mazda and vehicles like Kawasaki.

“Without us the vehicles would not switch and run,” he quipped.

He said 90% of its employees based on its plant in Barangay San Miguel, Tarlac are high school graduates.

He cited that 6,000 workers multiplied by five in a nuclear family means 30,000 probable consumers in the market.

Each of the workers there received a daily wage above the minimum wage law.

“Because of us, Tarlac first saw its first McDonald,” he told the crowd during the Luzon Ecozone Summit held at the Stadia in Dagupan City

The Luisita Industrial Parks’ Special Export Processing Zone there hosted corporations like URC, Centro Techno Park, Philippine Long Distance Telephone, and others.

With its present PhP1.10 billion AAB, Dagupan City, the richest city among the nine cities in  Region-1, did not contend herself to collect those business and real property taxes from those thriving business establishments. Mayor Belen T. Fernandez spearheaded the approval of the economic zone in the city by government offices like the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) for the city to host in a 1000 hectares of land at the Pantal-Lucao Area foreign and local investors like Filinvest, Ayala Project Estates, SM Properties, Megaworld Construction and Development Cooperation, and others that already bought lands there because of the tax holidays and other perks a zone offers.

The mayor told me before that an Information Technology – Business Process Management like call centers at the economic zone could employ five thousand direct jobs in the city and even those towns and cities in the province whose workers have to go to other provinces with zones and in Imperial Manila to look for job and employment.

‘Nough said!

I hope this article can be an eye opener for mayors, members of the Sanggunian Bayan and Panlungsod, and the business associations to think what income generating projects they can apply to spike their budget and boost the self respect and pride of their people because of the jobs being generated to them.

Entry filed under: News.

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