LOCAL governments are encouraged to change their mindset by “becoming customer-focused” from being “regulatory-focused” in order to improve delivery of services to constituents.

By Janina C. Lim, Reporter
METRO MANILA cities led by the likes of Quezon City and the City of Manila have continued to dominate an annual list of local government units (LGU) gauged on competitiveness, though the picture is mixed when localities are ranked in each of the development pillars of economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure and resilience, according to the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index 2018 released on Thursday.
This year’s index, which assesses over 1,500 local governments, was released during the 6th Regional Competitiveness Summit held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.
The rankings generally jibe with regions’ contributions to gross domestic product (GDP), which the Philippine Statistics Authority pegged at 36.6% for Metro Manila, 16.8% for the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (Calabarzon) region south of the nation’s capital and Central Luzon’s 9.5% in 2016.
Central Visayas and Davao Region accounted for the fourth- and fifth-biggest contributions to national output that year at 6.5% and 4.1%, respectively.
The city list showed Metro Manila localities accounting for half of the top 10 — Quezon City (first), Manila (second), Pasay (third), Makati (fifth) and Pasig (sixth) — while Davao City (fourth), Cagayan de Oro (seventh), Cebu (eighth), Bacolod (ninth) and Naga (10) rounded up the list.
Cities and municipalities competitiveness index
Bacolod (22nd in 2017) and Naga (14th last year) broke into the top 10 this year, displacing Parañaque (now 21st) and Antipolo (25th).
The Metro Manila cities of Muntinlupa, Taguig and San Juan ranked 14th, 18th and 39th this year.
In terms of “economic dynamism” — involving an environment that encourages “stable” business expansion and higher employment — the top 10 consisted of, in descending order: Quezon City as well as Pasay, Davao, Makati, Manila, Mandaue (15th overall) Pasig, Cebu, Bacolod and Taguig cities.
In terms of “government efficiency” — which refers to quality and reliability of government services and government support for sustainable productive expansion — the list consisted of Tagum City (12th overall) in Davao del Norte as topnotcher, as well as Pasay, Iloilo (13th), San Juan (Metro Manila), Makati, Manila, Quezon City, Dumaguete (44th) in Negros Oriental, Kidapawan (32nd) in Cotabato and Muntinlupa cities.
Manila topped the “infrastructure” list, followed by Quezon City as well as Davao, Pasig, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Pasay, Makati and Parañaque.
The roster for “resiliency” — which refers to localities’ capacity to facilitate job generation, productivity gains and increase incomes — was topped by Tanauan (19th overall) in Batangas, followed by Calapan (20th) in Oriental Mindoro, Davao, Cebu, Makati, Cagayan de Oro, Pasay, Iriga (11th) in Camarines Sur, Muntinlupa and Naga.
Cainta (Rizal) topped the list of municipalities, followed by Taytay (Rizal), Pura (Tarlac), Carmona (Cavite), Malay (Aklan), Binangonan (Rizal), San Jose (Antique) and Cabiao (Nueva Ecija).
Metro Manila’s municipality of Pateros placed 826th.
The top 10 provinces were dominated by those in Calabarzon and the South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City regions (Soccsksargen in central Mindanao which contributed 2.6% to 2016 GDP), in descending order: Rizal, Laguna, Davao del Norte, Cavite, Sarangani, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, Batangas and Bataan.
The three most improved localities were identified as:
• Iloilo, Mandaue and Bacolod among highly urbanized cities;
• Mabalacat (Pampanga), Cadiz (Negros Occidental) and Talisay (Cebu) among component cities;
• San Jose (Antique), Kalibo (Aklan) and Sibalom (Antique) among first- and second-class municipalities;
• Malinao (Aklan), Zaragoza (Nueva Ecija) and Dao (Capiz) among thrid- to sixth-class municipalities;
• as well as Rizal, Laguna and Davao del Norte among provinces.
In his speech at the summit, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez highlighted the need for local leaders to change mindsets.
“I challenge all our local chief executives to reinvent the ways of delivering government service,” Mr. Lopez said.
“We need to shift our mindset, from being regulatory-focused to becoming customer-focused.”
That, he said, means leveraging on automation in order to ensure “efficient, fast government service” that “can be accessed electronically anytime, anywhere…”
The national government itself has adopted this thrust partly through its “Project One: One Form, One Number, One Portal” initiative that will enable business registration “anytime, anywhere” including via mobile gadgets.
The portal, Trade Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado, head of the Trade and Investments Promotion Group, said in a press conference in PICC, now has relevant information from 92% of local governments.
“It is a software that is ubiquitous and available anytime, anywhere on your phone,” Ms. Terrado said.
“Hopefully, by next year it will be complete.”