Cities Development Initiative Newsletter

Legazpi City 'most competitive city' of 2018

Legazpi City in Albay province, Southern Luzon, was recognized as the overall most competitive local government unit (LGU), under the component city category, during the 6th Regional Competitiveness Summit on August 16, 2018 in Manila. Legazpi ranked no. 1 out of 112 component cities, followed by Naga City and Tagum City as 2nd and 3rd placers respectively.

Organized by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the annual ceremony awards the most competitive local governments from all over the Philippines based on the results of the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI).

The CMCI measures the overall local competitiveness of local governments using indicators in economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure and resilience. The CMCI covers nearly all or 91 percent of the 1,487 cities and municipalities of the Philippines. It was developed in 2013 by the NCC with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Legazpi’s booming infrastructure and increased investments bolstered the city’s competitive standing from last year’s no. 5. Infrastructure projects include the US$1.8 million (PhP100 million) septage treatment facility, the US$2.2 million (PhP120 million) two-story city hospital, and the US$2.7 million (PhP150 million) 18-kilometer, four-lane concrete road connecting the southern part of the city to the international airport, among others. Various groups of companies, including Ayala Corporation and SM, have invested billions of pesos in the city.

USAID, through its Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project, is assisting the city government and private sector partners enhance ease of doing business by shortening the process of acquiring business and construction permits, increase revenues through better asset management, and increase investments by strengthening capacities in promotion.

Legazpi City is one of the eight Cities Development Initiative (CDI) partner cities of USAID. Other CDI partner cities of Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa and Tagbilaran also moved up in the competitiveness ranking in their respective categories. Iloilo City in Iloilo province, Central Visayas was recognized as the most improved LGU, and Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao was acknowledged as the most resilient LGU, both under the highly urbanized city category.

Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II (center, seated) signed a partnership agreement with Ma. Gracia Galano, Head, Tagbilaran City Hall Extension Office, LandBank of the Philippines and Elmo Nazareno, Chief Executive Officer, Rameses Systems Inc.

Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II (center, seated) signed a partnership agreement with Ma. Gracia Galano, Head, Tagbilaran City Hall Extension Office, LandBank of the Philippines and Elmo Nazareno, Chief Executive Officer, Rameses Systems Inc.

Tagbilaran City and USAID launch pioneering e-payments service

The local government of Tagbilaran City in Bohol province, Central Visayas, with the support of USAID's E-PESO Project, launched on August 17, 2018 an innovative electronic payments facility that will allow local businesses in Tagbilaran City to pay their business permits and taxes anytime, anywhere online.

This pioneering payments system is the first from a local government unit in Region 7. It augments the automation of Tagbilaran City’s business process and licensing system and will further bolster the city’s priority agenda to increase revenue generation by improving efficiency in tax collection.

Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II, USAID/Philippines Deputy Mission Director Patrick Wesner, and other representatives from the city government, Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), private technology partner Rameses Systems Inc. (RSI), and other partners attended the event.

“Our ultimate goal is to empower our people so that everyone in Tagbilaran can experience better quality of life. We are embracing the latest technology to enable online payments so that transacting with the local government becomes less burdensome to all," said John Geesnell L. Yap II, Mayor of Tagbilaran City .

USAID/E-PESO, in cooperation with the Tagbilaran City government and its partners LBP, DPB and RSI, helped facilitate the shift of collecting business permits from cash to e-payments. Tagbilaran City will now offer online payment services via LandBank’s Electronic Payments Portal and DBP’s Internet Payment Gateway for business permits and taxes.

“E-payments’ adoption will also streamline workflows, improve transparency, and reduce the city government’s vulnerability to corruption. This will further promote investments and attract businesses to Tagbilaran City,” said Patrick Wesner, Deputy Mission Director, USAID/Philippines.

USAID, through its SURGE Project, has been working closely with the city government since 2016 to streamline the city’s business permits and licensing system to meet the standards set by the Department of Interior and Local Government. As a result, business owners now only undergo three steps instead of 14 in applying for a business permit, including the pre-business registration and submission of all documentary requirements.
Complementing what has been achieved, and with the efforts of USAID/E-PESO, the convenience of online payments is now extended to the growing number of almost 6,000 active registered businesses.

"We hope to continue the good relationship we have started with our partners. Your cooperation is very much valued and considered essential to drive the transformation and modernization of Tagbilaran for the present and future generations," added Mayor Yap.

USAID/E-PESO is also assisting the local government shift the disbursement of welfare assistance for LGU beneficiaries (e.g., senior citizens, indigents, etc.) from cash to e-payments. It provides research, advisory services, partnerships facilitation, and project management assistance to local government units of CDI partner cities. USAID/E-PESO supports the expansion of e-payment ecosystems in these areas, and help them shift to e-payments for the disbursement of social grants and benefits, allowances for staff and contract workers, and collection of real property taxes, building and business permits.

During his trip to Tagbilaran City, Deputy Mission Director Wesner paid a courtesy call to Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap and met city councilors to discuss recent developments in the city. Mr. Wesner also met Bohol Governor Edgardo Chatto who expressed gratitude to USAID for helping boost the economic growth of the province. When asked what he thinks should be included in USAID’s country development strategy for the next five years, Governor Chatto stressed the importance of poverty reduction.

Mr. Wesner also visited Barangay Manga with USAID/SURGE Chief of Party Sergio Andal Jr. to observe the installation of a new water meter reader for a household. Engr. Peter Busano, Head of the Tagbilaran City Waterworks System (TCWS), explained to Mr. Wesner the accomplishments of the TCWS since 2016. With the technical assistance of USAID/SURGE, the TCWS was able to improve its district metering and leakage and water pressure monitoring systems, among others. This resulted in the identification of non-revenue water that led to the restructuring of past due accounts. With an effective billing and collection system in place, the TCWS gained a 33 percent increase in collections in 2017. Mr. Wesner commended the city government for its progress in improved water operations and management.

USAID/SURGE continues to support the Tagbilaran City government in water and sanitation, with a focus on improving the capacity of water districts and water service providers and establishing a septage treatment facility for sustainable water and sanitation services.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno (center) and General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera served as panelists in a special session of the Arangakada Philippines Fora where they joined the discussion on investment in new wave cities.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno (center) and General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera served as panelists in a special session of the Arangakada Philippines Fora where they joined the discussion on investment in new wave cities.

CDI cities join Arangkada Philippines Fora 2018

USAID CDI partner cities showcased investment opportunities at the Arangkada Philippines Fora 2018 in Manila on September 12, 2018. The fora, with the theme of "Better Infrastructure for a Strong Economy", was organized by the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines. More than 500 foreign and local business leaders attended the event.

USAID/SURGE Project joined the exhibit and featured investment promotion materials of the CDI cities. City government representatives from Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Puerto Princesa promoted their competitiveness profiles, interacted with foreign investors and local entrepreneurs, and presented investment opportunities.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno and General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera served as panelists in a special session where they discussed investment in new wave cities. Both mayors shared their experiences and breakthroughs in enhancing their business environments which helped boost economic growth and improved their competitiveness indices. They described interventions in enhancing their Comprehensive Land Use Plans and streamlining their business and construction permitting systems with the assistance of USAID/SURGE.

Good practices in sustainable urban development inspire cities

“By being resilient, cities are ready to face challenges; by being competitive, cities are able to grab opportunities; and by being inclusive, cities are for everyone and by everyone,” said Prof. Joaquin Gonzalez of Golden Gate University, a consultant of International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

Prof. Gonzalez chairs the Department of Public Administration of the Golden Gate University in San Francisco, United States. He visited the Philippines in September 2018 to facilitate a series of short courses on sustainable urban development for CDI partner cities. The short courses were organized by USAID/SURGE Project.

A five-day short course was held in Iloilo City in Iloilo province, Western Visayas, on September 17 to 21, 2018 where other experts joined Prof. Gonzalez as facilitators. The University of the Philippines – Visayas hosted the course.

Ninety (90) local government planning practitioners from Iloilo and other cities, along with UPV faculty staff and students participated in the learning activity. Modules on strategies and application of urban planning in land use, transportation, local and regional investments, infrastructure, revenue generation, accessing finance, socialized housing and social inclusion were discussed.

The short course in Iloilo City laid the groundwork for the institutionalization of the Urban Development Learning Program (UDLP) through the collaboration of USAID/SURGE and UPV. The UDLP was conceptualized to strengthen the CDI cities’ capacity in sustainable urban development.

Prof. Gozalez also visited Cagayan de Oro and Tagbilaran and facilitated one-day workshops with city government planners, architects and university professors. He talked about the challenges and opportunities of urbanization with specific cases and lessons from San Francisco.

The participants took part in a group exercise wherein they tackled two of the common urbanization issues in Philippine cities by designing parking and open spaces using Lego building blocks.

“These are doable and implementable urban designs, worth presenting to city officials for their consideration,” said Architect Niño Guidaben, President of the United Architects of the Philippines, Bohol Chapter.

Prof. Gonzalez also met with the president and other school officials of Holy Name University for a potential sister-university partnership envisioned to offer short-term courses on urban development in Tagbilaran City.

Representatives of CENRO Barotac Nuevo and DENR Forest Management Bureau demonstrated how to use CyberTracker to USAID/Philippines Environment Office Chief John Edgar.

Representatives of CENRO Barotac Nuevo and DENR Forest Management Bureau demonstrated how to use CyberTracker to USAID/Philippines Environment Office Chief John Edgar.

DENR and USAID roll out Lawin SMART 6 in Iloilo

USAID/Philippines Environment Office Chief John Edgar visited Iloilo province on September 20,2018 to join the Lawin SMART 6 rollout workshop of USAID's B+WISER Program. This is part of a nationwide series of training events for the regional staff of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the features of the latest update to the Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System. The Lawin, developed by USAID and DENR, is an innovative protection system that applies a science-based approach to protect forests and the wildlife. Patrollers use tablets or smart phones with installed CyberTracker software during monitoring, and observations are uploaded to a computer using the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool or SMART software for data analysis and mapping.

A joint Lawin patrol with forest rangers from the Barotac Nuevo Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), DENR and USAID was also conducted in Bulabog Putian National Park, a protected area in Dingle, Iloilo. The forest rangers demonstrated how the Lawin CyberTracker is used to record observed forest condition, threats to the forest, and responses to threats during a forest patrol. DENR representatives also showed how these recorded data are imported into the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool, synched, analyzed, and used to generate reports.

Indigenous upland farmers of Barangay Mainit in Brooke's Point, Palawan, were taught how to use an A-frame in marking a contour line.

Indigenous upland farmers of Barangay Mainit in Brooke's Point, Palawan, were taught how to use an A-frame in marking a contour line.

Indigenous Palawan farmers learn agroforestry and farm planning

Indigenous upland farmers in the municipality of Brooke’s Point in Palawan province, Southern Luzon, are now equipped with more knowledge and skills in agroforestry and farm planning. The combined agriculture and forestry techniques they learned from a week-long training organized by USAID/Protect Wildlife in mid-September will help them enrich and manage their land and improve tree cover inside the watershed in Brooke's Point.

The farmers learned different methods suitable for upland farming, such as intercropping and optimizing their crop yield. They also learned from demonstrations on proper grafting, budding and marcotting. Moreover, the farmers visited a model farm to learn about the environmental and health benefits of organic farming. On the last day of training, each farmer received a set of farming tools, seeds and fertilizer. The farmers will create a farm plan, which they can submit to the local government of Brooke’s Point as a requirement to access funds under a payment-for-ecosystem-services scheme promoted by USAID/Protect Wildlife.

An illegal shipment of dried seahorses was seized in Zamboanga by the Zamboanga City Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Task Force, the Composite Fisheries Law Enforcement Task Force (CFLET) and BFAR. (Photo by Philippine National Police - Maritime Group)

An illegal shipment of dried seahorses was seized in Zamboanga by the Zamboanga City Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Task Force, the Composite Fisheries Law Enforcement Task Force (CFLET) and BFAR. (Photo by Philippine National Police - Maritime Group)

USAID-trained enforcers seize illegal shipment of dried seahorses in Zamboanga City

An estimated 66,000 dried seahorses weighting 165 kilograms, valued at PhP3 million, were confiscated by the Zamboanga City Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Task Force, the Composite Fisheries Law Enforcement Task Force (CFLET) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on August 15, 2018 in Zamboanga City in Zamboanga peninsula, Western Mindanao.

Seahorses are considered endangered species and harvesting these is a violation of the Fisheries Code of the Philippines. USAID/Protect Wildlife helped set up and build the capacity of members of the two task force groups in environmental law enforcement.

Meanwhile, wildlife law enforcers in Palawan province gained new skills in wildlife forensics and criminal investigation through an intensive training organized by USAID/Protect Wildlife, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

More than 40 participants from PCSDS, the provincial government’s Bantay Palawan Task Force, Palawan field units of DENR, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, and wildlife enforcement officers from local communities learned proper methods of collecting, handling and preserving various kinds of wildlife crime evidence including forensic, genetic, digital and trace evidence. The trainees processed a simulated wildlife crime scene by securing evidence and methodical crime scene search. Through exercises, they also learned techniques in investigating and interviewing witnesses and suspects, writing reports and affidavits, and presenting cases in a mock inquest proceeding.

The week-long training is part of the U.S. government’s support to boosting competencies of Philippine partner agencies on wildlife law enforcement under the USAID/Protect Wildlife and the U.S. DOI’s International Technical Assistance Program.

General Santos City septage management program set in motion

General Santos City in South Cotabato province, Southern Mindanao is now set to begin work on its septage management program after the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement on August 1, 2018 between the General Santos City Water District (GSCWD) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Region 7.

The agreement assured funding from DENR-EMB 7 for the preparation of a feasibility study of the city’s septage treatment system. DENR-EMB 7 turned over a check amounting to PhP3.3 million to GSCWD during the signing ceremony.

With the operation of a septage treatment system, water pollution can be reduced in the Sarangani Bay and Silway River which are Water Quality Monitoring Areas of the DENR-EMB 7. USAID/SURGE Project assisted the city government in forging a partnership with GSCWD to establish and operate a septage treatment system. USAID/SURGE also assisted the city government, DENR-EMB 7, and the GSCWD in the review and finalization of the terms of reference for the procurement of consultancy services for the updating and preparation of the septage project’s feasibility study.

Tagbilaran City forges international linkage

Tagbilaran City and Gyeongju City in South Korea forged an international sister-city partnership through the signing of the Letter of Intent on Friendship Exchange and Cooperation on September 12, 2018 in Gyeongju City.

Tagbilaran City Vice Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso and Gyeongju City Mayor Joo Nak Young signed the document. The partnership aims for mutual development and promotion of both cities as eco-friendly international destinations. Both cities will undertake activities fostering exchanges and cooperation on environment, tourism, economy and culture.

Vice Mayor Veloso also led the delegation of the Vice Mayor League of the Philippines’ five-day learning visit to the state-of-the-art septage treatment facility in Gyeongju City. Currently, the Tagbilaran City Sangguniang Panlungsod, headed by Vice Mayor Veloso, is finalizing the Tagbilaran City Waste Water Treatment and Septage Ordinance. USAID/SURGE Project is providing technical assistance to the city government in drafting the ordinance and the feasibility study for the establishment of a septage treatment plant in the city.

USAID literacy program receives twin regional literacy awards from DepED

USAID's Mindanao Youth for Development (MYDev) Program garnered two regional literacy recognitions from the Department of Education’s (DepED) SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Cotabato Province, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City) and Western Mindanao Regions for its successful implementation of Alternative Learning System (ALS) programs in the two areas and across the island-region of Mindanao.

USAID/MYDev was named the 2017 Outstanding Literacy Program (Regional Level) during DepED Region 12’s Literacy Awards held on September 19, 2018 at the Greenleaf Hotel in General Santos City. On September 13, 2018, USAID/MYDev was also recognized for its exemplary commitment and dedication which contributed to the successful implementation of Literacy Coordinating Council programs in Region 9. The Plaque of Recognition was awarded during the 1st ALS Regional Assembly Awarding Ceremony held at the Hacienda de Palmeras Hotel and Restaurant in Zamboanga City.

Both awards recognize USAID/MYDev as an outstanding partner of DepED in the implementation of literacy programs that created positive impacts to the lives of out-of-school children, youth, and their communities.

Cagayan de Oro City wins 2018 Asian Townscape Award

The Hapsay Sapa Program of Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis Oriental province, Northern Mindanao won the 2018 Asian Townscape Award. The Hapsay Sapa Program is a waterways rehabilitation project of the city government which aims to improve solid waste management through a multi-sector approach—engaging community leaders and residents, international NGOs, universities and business groups—in addressing waterway issues. The program also aims to address the need for open spaces that can be utilized for collective urban gardening, landscaping, recreation and community gathering.

The rehabilitation program started in 2014 and covers the Bitan-ag and Kolambog Creek, two of five creeks in the city. Previously, the two creeks were heavily covered with trash. In times of heavy downpour the creeks usually overflow, causing massive urban flooding.

The communities along the two creeks organize monthly clean-up activities, following a solid waste management plan. The residents also maintain a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Moreover, the success of the Linear Park Project in Barangay 22 inspired other creek-side residents to work toward having their very own linear park.

The Asian Townscape Award highlights and honors significant efforts made by Asian cities and organizations which try to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in terms of townscape while respecting local history and cultures. The awarding was organized by UN-Habitat Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, in cooperation with Fukuoka Asian Urban Research Center, Asian Habitat Society, and Asia Townscape Design Society.

Genral Santos City inks cooperation agreement with Clark Freeport Zone

General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera and Clark Development Corporation (CDC) President Noel Manankil entered into an agreement to strengthen economic linkages between General Santos City and the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga province on September 13, 2018.

The forging of the preliminary cooperation agreement between General Santos City and Clark Freeport is part of USAID/SURGE Project's efforts to promote the establishment of an aviation and logistics hub at the General Santos City Airport.

The agreement seeks to expand trade, investment and tourism ties through business missions and information sharing on key themes of air transport connectivity, agro-industrial development, investment promotion, tourism destination marketing, land management, and environmental conservation.

With the signing of the initial cooperation scheme, Mayor Rivera and CDC President Manankil committed to work closely with private air carriers to establish direct flights between General Santos City Airport and Clark International Airport. The direct air linkage to Clark will provide an alternative transshipment route for high-value fishery and agricultural products from SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Cotabato Province, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City) to various points in Central and Northern Luzon and key markets in Asia and the Middle East. The forging of the agreement was part of the study tour facilitated by USAID/SURGE for the SOCCSKSARGEN delegation to the Clark International Airport and its aviation services locators, the Clark Industrial Zone and the Clark Museum.

Cities Development Initiative

USAID is working to strengthen the economic competitiveness and resilience of secondary cities outside Metro Manila through its Cities Development Initiative (CDI). The CDI seeks to advance the development of secondary cities as agents of growth that is inclusive, environmentally sustainable and resilient. Depending on the most urgent needs of the city, USAID provides a range of technical assistance, drawing from resources in economic growth, health, energy, environment, governance, and education to assist the cities achieve resilience and inclusive growth.

The CDI is a crucial component of the broader Partnership for Growth with Equity, a White House initiated “whole-of-government” partnership between the U.S. Government and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. The partnership aims to shift the Philippines to a sustained and more inclusive growth trajectory on par with other high‐performing emerging economies. USAID has eight CDI partner cities: Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Iloilo, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga.

Click here to learn more about the CDI.

For more information on USAID's projects in the Philippines, click here.

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