My Observations: Muntinlupa City the 8th Most Competitive Highly Urbanized City of the Nation in this Year’s Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI)

When it comes to being competitive among the many cities of the Philippines, making the Top Ten of the most important category is a big achievement already. Thanks to the respective news releases of Business Mirror and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) the latest Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) for 2019 showed that Muntinlupa City is now the 8th most competitive highly urbanized city (HUC) of the entire nation.

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Specifically, Muntinlupa is one of six Metro Manila cities that made the Top 10 of the Most Competitive Highly Urbanized Cities category as revealed during the 7th Regional Competitiveness Summit held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on October 24.. The city that is home to Ayala Alabang, Alabang Hills, Filinvest City and Northgate Cyberzone is the only South Metro Manila city to make it in the Top 10 of the said category. This is a notable improvement over last year’s results.

Muntinlupa’s Public Information Officer Tez Navarro responded to my inquiry by saying that their administration is glad that the city made it in the Top 10 among HUCs. I also made inquiries to my sources within the city governments of Parañaque and Las Piñas and, as of this writing, nobody responded. The Most Competitive City for HUCs is Quezon City.

In my view, it’s not surprising that Muntinlupa made it big given the City Government’s (headed by Mayor Jaime Fresnedi) continued public services, efficiency and the local economy’s strong growth. Muntinlupa also made it in the Top 10 on the categories of government efficiency and infrastructure.

As for Parañaque, this year marks another chapter in history in which the city (whose local government unit is led by mayor Edwin Olivarez) failed to break into the Top 10 among Highly Urbanized Cities. In the 2018 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index, the city that is home to BF Homes subdivision as well as those fancy casinos and resorts of Entertainment City ranked 14th among HUCs and 21st place overall in the competitiveness chart that includes HUCs and component cities.

Going back to this year’s Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index, Parañaque got tied with Caloocan City for the 3rd place ranking for the Most Improved LGUs category among HUCs. The Most Improved LGU for Highly Urbanized Cities is shared at the top by Valenzuela and Malabon. When it comes to economic dynamism and infrastructure,  Parañaque got mentioned.

Now that the CMCI for 2019 has been published, now is a good time to take a close look at the infrastructure quality and government efficiency in Parañaque. Very recently traffic along Presidents Avenue (the road that connects Dr. A. Santos Avenue with the BF Homes commercial zone and the villages) worsened due to the three road operations (two belonging to Maynilad and one with the Department of Public Works and Highways) happening there at the same time. Those operations occupied significant space on the road making the flow of traffic tighter and more congested. Already motorists who travel regularly along Presidents Avenue are already annoyed with the worsened traffic congestion and a few of them questioned as to why is it that the City Government did not bother to send inspectors on the three road operations. Going back to this year’s CMCI, government efficiency is clearly where Parañaque is lacking.

As for the City of Las Piñas, there is a lack of available information as to how it fared among HUCs in varied categories as of this writing.

Ranking the Competitiveness

According to the CMCI website, The rankings of Cities and Municipalities are based on the sum of their scores on four pillars: Economic Dynamism, Government Efficiency, Infrastructure and Resiliency. Provincial rankings meanwhile are based on population and income weighted average of the Overall scores of cities and municipalities under a province.

The Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index or CMCI is an annual ranking of Philippine cities and municipalities developed by the National Competitiveness Council through the Regional Competitiveness Committees (RCCs) with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development.

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Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAEX) 27-Kilometer Segment Construction Has Begun!

As a resident living in South Metro Manila, I always prefer to see the entire Philippines’ infrastructure get developed and expanded tremendously because the benefits of improved travel time and experience will be felt by the riding public for the long term. At the same time, such improvements will help travelers reach the far-away destinations with better speed and in less time.

Today I learned about some good news – the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAEX) has started construction beginning with a 27-kilometer section. A groundbreaking ceremony was held at Alapan II-B Village in Cavite Province on March 27. The CALAEX itself has a grand total distance of 45 kilometers.

As announced on the Philippine News Agency (PNA) website, the P12-billion Cavite segment will ensure a safe, efficient and seamless travel for motorists from the history town of Kawit in Cavite to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) – Mamplasan Interchange. It is expected to cut travel time from 2.5 hours to less than 45 minutes and help decongest approximately fifty thousand cars.

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar declared that  the project is part of the President Rodrigo Duterte administration’s masterplan to connect Luzon from north to south, to be called the “Luzon Spine Expressway Network” (LSEN), to increase the current 300-km. high-speed expressway to 1,000 km. by the year 2022. Duterte’s term of office will end in that year.

“We will deliver not just on our promise to solve traffic, but to bring development to our provinces,” Villar announced.

More on speed, the expressways are not only expected to cut travel time for motorists but help add to the development of the provinces of Cavite and Laguna.  Cavite is now the biggest in terms of population among the country’s provinces, with an estimated 4.1 million people according to 2016 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

In terms of cooperation, Cavite Governor Jesus Crispin Remulla said this “speaks volumes about the dynamism of the government and its private partner.” He said the expressway will connect Laguna and Cavite, and declog the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

Meanwhile the Laguna segment of the CALAEX project is now in full swing which, according to Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) president and Chief Executive Officer, Rodrigo Franco, is expected to open the first section during the third quarter or as early as July this year.

When it comes to economic development by means of job creation, the CALAEX will employ some 1,200 personnel for its Laguna segment and close to 1,300 more for site and office personnel as its Cavite segment progresses. It is part of the network of toll roads that the MPTC is constructing and developing, which will connect to Cavitex and the C5-South Link and will make transfers from Laguna, Cavite, Las Piñas, Parañaque, and CP Garcia Ave. seamless.

The CALAEX is one of many projects being done under the highly ambitious Build Build Build program of the Duterte administration. Build Build Build lists down high impact projects that are envisioned to improve the economy, increase incomes, invite investments leading to job creation. In his 10-point Socioeconomic Agenda, President Duterte envisioned the reduction of poverty from 21.6% in 2015 to 13% to 15% in 2022. It was emphasized that the acceleration of infrastructure development will pave the way for a more comfortable life, better travel and improved economic development nationwide.