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EDITORIAL: Not bad at all

WE congratulate the city government of Naga, through the stewardship of Mayor John G. Bongat, for once again hogging the spotlight as one of the top component cities in the country, although this time, the total score that the city earned was a notch lower than it previously held during the past two years. It wasn’t bad, after all, that we were rated second among the top ten most competitive component cities in the country, while we had held the top post in 2015 and 2016, which was a remarkable improvement from our 3rd place finish in 2014. During that year, we were among the Top Three, along with better known urban centers, such as Makati and Cagayan de Oro City that were ranked first and second, respectively, when city ranking was not yet dichotomized into whether one was highly urbanized or a component city. It wasn’t at all bad that we ended up second this time because again we have maintained to be No. 1 in Governance Efficiency that Naga is widely known for since the late Jesse Robredo as Naga City Mayor had put premium on the efficient delivery of government services as every public servant’s primordial concern. Aside from governance efficiency, cities were rated on their economic dynamism (for which we were No. 3 among the component cities for 2017) and infrastructure development (where we were also ranked No. 3). Economic dynamism is usually associated with activities that create expansion of business and industries and higher employment. This is the concrete representation of productivity as it matches the output of the local economy with local resources. Conceptually, it is the combination of the entrepreneurial spirit and the financial institutions that will channel dynamism. It is recognized that localities are the centers of economic activities. Therefore, business expansion and job creation are easily observable in local settings. What probably pulled Naga down from its topnotch position where it was second to none is the introduction in this year’s ranking of Resiliency as the fourth component in gauging every city’s competitiveness index where Naga was ranked No. 13. As defined by experts, “a resilient city is one that has developed capacities to help absorb future shocks and stresses to its social, economic, and technical systems and infrastructures so as to still be able to maintain essentially the same functions, structures, systems, and identity.” Surely, this is something that we should improve on. Had we coveted this year’s No. 1 rank for the third consecutive year, Naga would have been the first city to be inducted in the Hall of Fame by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) that oversees the competitiveness ranking of each province, city, and municipality in the Philippines every year. As it is now, Naga is a two-time holder of the No. 1 spot as the country’s most competitive component city (in 2015 and 2016), where in the latter year Legazpi City was also ranked third. For this year, however, Legazpi City slipped to No. 5. Nevertheless, the Bicol region, for the second time, has two cities landing in the Top 10 -- first in 2016 and now in 2017. Our sister city, therefore, also deserves a pat on the back. But why all the fuss? The competitiveness index, the NCC believes, can be used as a diagnostic tool by local officials to assess the strengths of their city or municipality and identify areas for improvement and collaboration. Data can provide insight for policy making, development planning and investment promotion. The index also paints a general picture of each Philippine province, city and municipalitiy which may be used to guide businessmen and traders where to locate best their capital and investment.

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