By Perseus Echeminada Updated December 27, 2008 12:00 AM
[ philstar.com ]
Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr. led Quezon City in 2008 in attaining a budget surplus of over P1 billion from a P 10-million budget deficit in 2001, despite an economic storm currently raging across the globe.
Treasurer Victor Endriga said the city’s tax collection has already reached P 9.8 billion.
In the past 12 months, Quezon City has maintained its status as the richest and most business-friendly city in the country. It has become the new information and communication technology destination not only in the country but in Southeast Asia, with the opening of the University of the Philippines Techo park, the Philippine version of Silicon Valley in the US.
Quezon City is now home to 24 PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) information technology parks and zones with more than 70 business process outsourcing locators. Leading the list is Eastwood City in Libis, the country’s first IT park, with more than 50 locators and with more than $200 million in export revenue last year.
The year 2008 saw the continuing rise of the Quezon City Central Business District, a major transformation effort undertaken by the city government, comprising the East and North Triangle areas along North Edsa and the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, which is still being developed as an integrated and environmentally balanced mixed-use development model.
Six major streets in Quezon City are undergoing massive upgrading to become models of modern, efficient and pleasurable boulevards. These include Quezon Avenue, Timog Avenue between SM North Edsa and Trinoma along Edsa, and from Landbank in Philcoa to the Commission on Audit, along Commonwealth Avenue.
A flyover linking the South and North Expressways is also undergoing construction on Katipunan and Mindanao Avenues.
The year also saw the rise of a methane power plant, the first garbage-to-power facility in Southeast Asia, at the Payatas dumpsite.
Quezon City is the first local government to implement a clean development mechanism required of countries globally under the Kyoto Protocol. The city’s clean development mechanism activity will be first of its kind to be registered with the United Nation project.
It was in 2008 also saw the approval of a landmark ordinance on reproductive health management. It is expected to boost the anti-poverty program of the city government.
In his 7th State of the City Address last September, Belmonte said the landmark ordinance would give families the freedom to choice ways to nurture their health and fertility, and the overall quality of their lives.
“This ordinance gives us a holistic approach to reproductive health services like ligation and vasectomy for indigent patients and free contraceptives in health centers,” he said.
Belmonte said poverty alleviation is one of his adminitration’s priorities in the next two years in response to the number one need of the poor for help in basic needs.
Apart from the reproductive health program, which is now being implemented the city, Belmonte’s administration also seeks to empower the city’s 2.8 million residents to make them productive members of the community, not dependent on dole-outs.
“We must make our people our wealth, our source of productivity,” he said. “Our guidepost for governance is that all must win-all must benefit from development gains. Our 2.68 million people must feel the progress and positive development of the city.”
Belmonte said the Sikap Livelihood program has ballooned into a P 500-million collateral-free loan program benefiting more than 30,000 entrepreneurs, mostly housewives in 80 barangays.
‘Most competitive city in Metro’
Quezon City is now hailed as the most competitive city in Metro Manila, selected as one of the top 10 Asian cities of the future and ranked no 7 among the more than 200 Asian cities, he added..
Belmonte said Quezon City is now regarded as “teachers of best practices,” citing the websites of the United Nations and the World Bank that highlighted the city’s success from a bankrupt and disentegrating urban center into one of the cleanest and richest cities in Asia.
“We are weaving our magic, sabi ko naman, we simply took care of the basics first,” he said. “Now, we are better able to take care of our constituents.”
Belmonte also reported that in two international forums in Berlin and Singapore, the success of Quezon City was also discussed, and leaders from various parts of the world were interested to know the city’s success formula.
The city’s rapid development has prompted his administration to help create more high-growth communities through the construction of road networks that would interlink communities in Metro Manila, he added.
From 2001 to date, the Quezon City government has invested close to P13 billion for infrastructure, 53 percent of which financed the improvement and extension of road networks.
On the education front, Belmonte announced the construction of 87 more public elementary and high school buildings, providing 1,471 new classrooms. The city government espouses free education for children from day care to high school and free college education for deserving scholars.