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EDITORIAL: Nothing to quarrel about

IT is unfortunate that overzealous residents of both Naga and Legazpi have taken the recent ranking of cities out of context, away from the nobler purpose that the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) intended to be. The bone of contention began when Naga was ranked 2nd in the overall ranking of most competitive component cities for 2017 (after it stayed on top during the past two years) while Legazpi slid to 5th from last year’s 3rd place. It was most hurting for Legazpi because as early as February this year, it was prematurely and erroneously reported (in a national broadsheet at that) that Legazpi had ‘finally’ dislodged Naga in the competitiveness ranking when actual and final ranking was yet to be announced in August this year. The NCC uses the Cities and Municipalities Index in the annual ranking of the respective socio-political units (provinces, cities, and municipalities) because it believes that competitiveness among them within their respective categories is a key building block for national competitiveness. “We also believe that with over 100 million people across 7,100 islands, it is important to create more economic engines in the form of local government units to drive long-term economic growth and development,” the NCC said. The overall goal is to measure all the cities and municipalities (totaling 1,634) every year to eventually institutionalize and embed data-gathering and analysis so they could use their own data to plan their future. Rankings of Cities and Municipalities are based on the sum of their scores on 4 Pillars: Economic Dynamism, Government Efficiency, Infrastructure, and Resiliency. The latter pillar was introduced only this year. It is the capacity of a locality to facilitate businesses and industries despite the shocks and stresses it encounters. This implies that the role of local governments is critical in ensuring a competitive environment to make businesses sustain their profits, create jobs, and increase the productivity of its people. In order for localities to be able to do this, it must be resilient in its infrastructure, governance, social and environmental systems. Guillermo Luz, private sector co-founder of the NCC’s competitiveness index, revealed that when they started, many people doubted that mayors would want their cities to participate and be measured. “But we argued that those who understood competitiveness would realize that the more competitive they are, the easier it would be for them to draw investments and generate jobs. They also realized that the more they measured their city, the more effective they would be as executives and managers. The recent ranking would tell us that there is much to be done among our own cities and municipalities in order to stay competitive. As the recent rankings show, Naga is No. 1 in government efficiency while Legazpi is 27th among the component cities. Naga is No. 3 in both economic dynamism and infrastructure where Legazpi is No. 8 and No. 4, respectively. In terms of resiliency, Naga is on 13th, while Legazpi is on the 22nd ladder. Added up, Naga came 2nd overall, while Legazpi ended 5th overall. Fortunately for the Bicol Region, which is one of the poorest regions in the country, we have two dynamic cities (Naga and Legazpi) that are more competitive among the country’s component cities. While the elite list of Top 10 component cities is dominated by 5 cities belonging to Calabarzon (Antipolo City is No. 1 overall) and many others have failed to make it, Bicol has produced two, while the remaining slots went to 3 other regions with one each. Isn’t that a feat that all Bicolanos should be proud of? Meanwhile, here’s how the other 5 Bicol cities fared in the ranking: Iriga (25th), Sorsogon (29th), Masbate (39th), Tabaco (72nd), and Ligao (74th). Surely, each one of them will aim higher in the future. Because of Naga’s and Legazpi’s strong performance, their respective provinces were pulled up in the overall ranking such that out of the 72 provinces in the country, Camarines Sur ranked 21st while Albay was close behind at 28th place. Provincial rankings are based on population, income and weighted average of the Overall scores of cities and municipalities under a province.

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