THE recently concluded 27th South Luzon Area Business Conference, the annual convergence among business stakeholders from Bicolandia and the two regions of Southern Tagalog, namely, Region 4A (Calabarzon) and Region 4B (Mimaropa), also turned out to be a lesson in good governance.
It was good governance, as in the provincial governor of Albay, the congressman in its 2nd district, and the mayor of Legazpi City sharing the same stage and giving their pieces of advice based on their expertise and experiences on how we can work together for local expediency and common interests to keep the country moving.
The three Albayano political veterans may not belong to a common political party affiliation, nor were on the same ticket during the past and recent elections. But they were never seen to be cutting each other’s throat when it comes to making Albay an emerging dynamic province in Bicol. Then Governor now Congressman Joey Salceda and Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal eere known to have joined hands together to finally make Legazpi City as the No. 1 most competitive component city for this year, after starting to make it in the top ten during the last two years. Then Congressman now Governor Al Francis Bichara (if you haven’t notice, he and Salceda just exchanged seats at the final term of each other’s last posts) supported Salceda’s Bicol International Airport and other big dreams for Albay in terms of investments, tourism promotion, and big-time infrastructure development. Setting aside politics in favor of the public’s higher interest, does not happen in many other political territories in the country. The local leaders are either bitter political combatants, or the mayor simply works alone, ignoring, if not shooing away his congressman or governor, and the latter two also doing the same. In short, the province, the city, and the congressional district have become islands by themselves, without a bridge to become productive and accessible.
In that conference, attended by over 250 business leaders from the three regions, Mayor Rosal talked about of the challenges they have hurdled through “shared responsibility” among the city’s stakeholders (which he admitted he learned from then Naga City Mayor Jesse M. Robredo) to make Legazpi as this year’s most competitive component city. Gov. Bichara eagerly presented the much-talked about Albay Farmers’ Bounty Village (located along the Maharlika Highway in Guinobatan, Albay for many travelers to notice its imposing façade of greenhouses, plots and greeneries). His project speaks loudly of innovative farm-tourism where farmers become entrepreneurs by planting, doing research, and selling their own products after assuring first that their own families have food and crops on their tables.
The sharp-talking but superbly knowledgeable Rep. Joey Salceda talked about the latest goings on in Congress, particularly the crafting of next year’s budget appropriations and other economic issues. He may have expressed some misgivings about certain economic decisions as of late but he said he hoped that all will be fairly well in the end. He said there are many things to discuss but he couldn’t because it would take the whole day of the conference. Many delegates, therefore, agreed that indeed there are many interesting days to watch for ahead.
Meanwhile, the respective business chambers concluded the 2-day conference with the adoption of local resolutions (i.e. fast tracking of SLEX Extension from Calamba, Laguna to Bulan, Sorsogon and providing more Naga-Manila-Naga flights with the full rehab of its airport) that will be submitted for appropriate action when they meet again for the annual Philippine Business Conference (PBC) at the Manila Hotel in October this year.
The PBC convenes local, national and global leaders from business and government to further look into other synergies and strategies needed to create a more competitive business and investment environment leading to the country’s envisioned economic transformation by 2022.