Monday, December 31, 2012

Philippine Economy Excellent Despite Natural Calamities

The year 2012 saw Central Luzon hit by calamity when torrential monsoon rains triggered widespread flooding that destroyed crops, infrastructures and disrupted the lives of thousands of residents.

But the region's economy has proven its strength and resilience once again as boosted by vibrant tourism and industry sector that generated more employment opportunities and the continuous influx of foreign and local tourists.

Although the economic performance in the agriculture and fishery sectors slowed down due to the devastation brought by the monsoon rains last August, it managed to cope up with the challenges through the full support of the government.

Data from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Central Luzon showed that total damages to agriculture was pegged at P1.095 billion; palay and corn, P371.36 million, livestock, P10.25 million; high-value crops, P22.27 million and fisheries, P691.63 million.

Central Luzon' economy has always exhibited resiliency despite devastating weather disturbance, NEDA regional director Severino Santos said.

Santos said government rehabilitation and recovery programs have been successful particularly for crop production.

Andrew Villacorta, regional director of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the Central Luzon has played big part in the country's improved palay production.

"We have increased palay harvest in Central Luzon this year despite being hit by torrential rains," Villacorta said.

Records from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics showed that palay and corn production in Central Luzon in the third quarter of the year increased to 211,306 and 15,755 metric tons, respectively, which is higher compared to the same period last year with 171,334 and 12,212 metric tons, respectively.

Santos was confident that the continued collaboration between the private and government sector will continue its sustainable and moderate growth in 2013.

Investments/Job Opportunities

The impressive performance of the three freeports in the region, namely Subic, Clark and Freeport Area of Bataan stimulated the local economy.

Subic has grown into a premier logistics, tourism and investments hub, with over 1,500 locators doing their business in the Freeport and generating close to 90,000 jobs.

"Subic Bay Freeport is vibrant, a very exciting place especially now that a lot of attention has been focused on the Philippines because of reforms initiated by the administration," SBMA chairman and administrator Roberto Garcia said.

The number of workers inside the Clark Freeport continued to rise with more than 70,000 this year.

Clark Development Corporation (CDC) chair and officer-in-charge Eduardo Oban, Jr. said the improvement on the employment in Clark was an indication that the freeport zone is becoming an investment haven for multi-national firms.

Oban has expressed hope that the opening of other tourism-related projects in Clark will also increase employment opportunities, not only for the residents of the Metro Clark area, but also in the adjacent provinces of Tarlac and Pampanga.

Meanwhile, the Authority Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB), has increased the number of its registered locators from 35 in 2010 to 73 in November this year.


Improved infrastructures, specifically the modern North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway led to hefty growth rates in tourist arrivals in Central Luzon.

Ronnie Tiotuico, regional director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said the two expressways have contributed substantially to the growth of travel and tourism in the region.

Likewise, he said the SBMA and CDC have been strengthening their bid to become premier tourist destinations in the region.

The SBMA and CDC have been vigorously pursuing the tourism market due to numerous natural attractions to offer, aside from the modern amenities that are uniquely placed inside a peaceful and well-maintained environment, he said.

A phenomenal increase in the passenger volume at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) was also noted this year.

Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) president and CEO Victor Jose I. Luciano said the DMIA has achieved for the first time an unprecedented one million passengers in just 10 months of 2012.

Luciano said he expected "an increase and steady flow of travelers, tourists, balikbayans and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) this December in time for the holidays."

"At the rate we sre going, we expect to service close to 1.4 million passengers by year end," he added.

Peace and Order

Another significant aspect that the public and private sectors in the region feel proud of was the generally peaceful and orderly situation in the region.

Chief Supt. Edgardo Ladao, Central Luzon police director, described the overall peace and order condition prevailing in the seven provinces as conducive to development efforts.

Crime statistics from the Regional Investigation and Detection Management Division (RIDMD) showed the crime volume from January to October this year decreased by about 39.09 percent.

This was greatly attributed to the strong partnership among the police, the community and the local government units (LGUs).

Economic Outlook for 2013

The NEDA and the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PamCham) agreed that 2013 would be a good year for the region's economy.

The NEDA's forecast was due to an increase in investors' confidence as well as a rebound in agricultural production.

Jim Jimenez, PamCham president, said the anti-corruption efforts of the administration have boosted the confidence of investors in the government.

Likewise, PamCham vice chairman Rene Romero said the local economy is now getting healthier as projected.

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