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Coordinating Metro Cebuís development

First Posted 10:25:00 02/23/2011

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The Central Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC), through its various planning consultations, has long recognized the need for a metropolitan body to coordinate the planning, project implementation and monitoring of Metro Cebu-wide programs and projects. Thus, in December 1997, it passed a resolution approving the creation of the Metro Cebu Development Council (MCDC) with the mandate to coordinate the actions of local government units and national government agencies in Metro Cebu. As originally identified by the RDC, Metro Cebu was to comprise the 10 local government units (cities and municipalities) located in the central eastern part of mainland Cebu, from Compostela in the north and Naga in the south, and the island of Mactan. For its members, the MCDC includes all the mayors of the LGUs within Metro Cebu and the governor of Cebu province.

Since its creation, however, the MCDC has not done much to address the common concerns of LGUs in Metro Cebu. Each member city and town continues to do its own thing without regard to what the others are doing.

What is wrong with the MCDC? Conceptually, there is nothing wrong. What is missing is the interest of some LGUs to join the council for one reason or another, like not wanting to report to another higher person, for example. In fact, of the original 11 intended members of the council, only five initially complied with the requirement to contribute funds for the operation of the council.

In December 1999, the MCDC endorsed a resolution asking the President to issue an Executive Order (EO) creating the MCDC. Meanwhile, pending the issuance of the EO, the MCDC approved in March 2000 a Memorandum of Agreement for signing by all its members to serve as basis for its operationalization. Of the 11 original members of the council, only two, the municipality of Compostela and Cordova, gave their mayors the authority to sign the Memorandum of Agreement.

Former Cebu governor Pablo Garcia himself, the interim MCDC chairman, had reservations on the sustainability of the council. Upon his recommendations, the MCDC passed a resolution in August 2002 requesting the national legislators from Metro Cebu to create by law a Metro Cebu Development Authority. Like the EO, nothing came out of it. In the absence of the EO or the law, the council also went into limbo in the next two years.

In August 2005, the RDC secretariat reconvened the council. In that meeting, the members of the council designated Gov. Gwen Garcia as its chairman. In October of the same year, the RDC again passed a resolution expanding the coverage of Metro Cebu to include Danao City in the north and San Fernando and Carcar in the south. The MCDC met twice in the early of months of 2008. It also organized a Conference on Metropolitan Planning and Management in December of that year. After that, however, the MCDC reconvened again as a body only this month, February 2011, to tackle some of the problems that were increasingly felt already by its members such as the recent flooding and worsening traffic situation in Metro Cebu.

Why the slow motion?

The obvious reason is the failure of LGUs to realize, not only the importance of coordination to solve their common problems and pursue their common interest but also the role that metro cities and towns, working as one, play in contributing to the growth and development of the nation. Right now, about half of the world?s population already live in cities or its aggrupation, the metropolis. Much of the world?s output of goods and services also comes from these areas, and the more competitive the cities or metropolis are, the higher is their share of the national output. Many countries, including China, already take it as a challenge how to make their cities become more competitive and grow.

Given these, we ask, is Metro Cebu prepared to compete with other growing cities and metropolis in and outside the country? By not looking at Metro Cebu as one integrated economic unit, I could not imagine how Metro Cebu will perform in the face of increasing globalization and competitiveness of the different centers of economic activities in the world.

For a metropolitan area to function efficiently, for example, it must first have an integrated land use and transport plan. We had this once prepared for the ?80s and ?90s under the Metro Cebu Land Use and Transport Study (MCLUTS). But the plan was fully implemented already except for a few remaining projects like the proposed circumferential road in Cebu City and the reclamation projects in Mactan Island.

If you heard before of the Australian government-funded modernization of Cebu?s traffic light system and the Japanese government-funded Metro Cebu Development Projects I and II, the Cebu South Reclamation Project, and other related projects, then you know what I mean.

The MCLUTS was good only up to 2000. What about 2000 to 2010 and this year and beyond? What guided our development in the last decade and what will guide us this year and beyond? Nothing, except the whims and caprices of most of our local officials who are only preoccupied with one thing?the next election. Will I be reelected? How can I ensure my continued stay in power? No wonder ... never mind.

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