The most inclusive province: Bataan

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Rolando T. Dy

M. A. P. Insights

A crane stands in the port of the Bataan Economic zone in Mariveles town, Bataan.

If poverty incidence is the metric of inclusivity, what province wins? Bataan. Surprised?

Let us compare the scores of provinces with the least number of poor.

Among the top performers, Bataan has the lowest poverty incidence at 2% in 2015. It was No. 7 among 79 provinces in 2006. It jumped to No. 1 in 2015 from No. 7 among 79 provinces in 2006. It also posted among the fastest reduction of poor between 2006 and 2015 at -74%. NCR hardly reduced its poverty incidence.

Bataan’s poverty incidence is not far from Malaysia’s 0.6%, and lower than Vietnam’s 7%, Thailand’s 10.5% and Indonesia’s 10.9%.

Disclosure: I have no political nor business connections in Bataan. I am from Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

What are the secrets of Bataan? I don’t know all the answers.

The province had 760,650 people with a high density of 554 per square kilometer in 2015. Mariveles, Dinalupihan, and Balanga have the largest population among 12 municipalities. Population growth was 1.7% a year between 2010 and 2015.

Bataan’s strengths include balanced development. It is near industrial jobs in the Subic and Bataan Freeport areas. The latter employs about 28,000 from 81 operating locators.

In addition, the province is a tourist hub anchored on natural and historical places as well as spillovers from Subic. Strong political leadership may be also a factor, as reflected in their vision.

Bataan was the 7th most competitive province in the country in 2016, according to the National Competitiveness Council. It was ranked 1st in Central Luzon.

Agriculture, such as rice, hogs and poultry, are relatively small. In fact, Bataan is a net importer of rice despite its high yield of five tons per hectare.

Among its famous sons are the late David Consunji, the founder of DMCI Holdings, Alfred Juinio, former UP College of Engineering dean and secretary of Public Works, and former senator Manuel Villar.

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Bataan has its share of weaknesses. First is distance from NCR making it tough to be a bedroom community like Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal. A Bataan-Corregidor-Cavite Trans Manila Bay Bridge-Tunnel can surely transform Bataan’s and Subic’s connectivity.

Bataan is a laboratory of inclusive development. Is anyone listening?

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or the MAP.


Rolando T. Dy is the Vice-Chair of the M.A.P. AgriBusiness and Countryside Development Committee, and the Executive Director of the Center for Food and AgriBusiness of the University of Asia & the Pacific.


Vision: By 2020, Bataan will have the lowest poverty incidence resulting from quality growth attaining top-level Human Development Index in the Philippines. Mission: Excellent public services towards a better quality of life for all.