As part of the ongoing mission to fuel economic investment and livelihood development outside of Metro-Manila, on Tuesday, June 30, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) in cooperation with the Leechiu Property Consultants officially announced the 25 cities nationwide that will receive assistance from both the state and the private sector for the establishment of new IT investments.
DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said, “Digital Cities 2025 aims to build the resiliency of the IT-BPM sector as an engine of growth for the Philippine economy. It also aims to bridge industry progress in the countryside to strengthen local economies. The 25 new locations, alongside the Centers of Excellence and established Next Wave Cities, shall serve as investment destinations for a thriving digital economy.”
The 25 cities identified were based on these 4 parameters:
1) Talent availability
4) Business environment
The 25 digital cities are:
2) Batangas City
5) General Santos City
6) Iligan City
8) Laguna cluster of Los Baños, Calamba and San Pablo
9) Laoag City
10) Legazpi City
12) Metro Cavite
13) Metro Rizal
14) Olongapo City
15) Puerto Princesa
16) Roxas City
17) San Fernando, La Union
18) San Fernando, Pampanga
19) San Jose del Monte
22) Tarlac City
23) Tuguegarao City
25) Zamboanga City
“By working together with other executive agencies, local government units, industry leaders, and academic institutions, we will enable each location to grow into Centers of Excellence that spur the development of other business sectors, de-risk Metro Manila concentration, create jobs, and boost the local economy,” noted DICT Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Caintic.
IBPAP President and CEO Rey E. Untal explained that these locations will serve as the countryside alternatives to Metro-Manila for IT-BPM investors.
“They will receive the support of the DICT [Department of Information and Communications Technology], LGUs, industry leaders and academe, combined with the assistance of these multiple stakeholders, to ensure progress in terms of institutional development, talent development, infrastructure development, and marketing and promotion,” said Untal. Further stating that “The launch of Digital Cities 2025 is a testament to the IT-BPM industry’s resilience and enduring role as a major growth driver of the Philippine economy” and that “The countryside remains full of untapped potential and harnessing this can lead to countless more opportunities for continued expansion and sustained growth for the sector.”
The 25 cities are expected to take much of the expansion projects in the countryside of existing IT firms operating in Metro-Manila.
“We will hopefully motivate existing investors to expand to these places, attract new investors to them and in general help in their economic development,” said Untal.
In order for these digital cities to be transformed and be deemed worthy for investments, Leechiu Property Consultants CEO David Leechiu said it is critical to improve the infrastructure and talent viability.
Even in these remarkably arduous times with the COVID-19 global pandemic and resulting economic downturn, the IT-BPM sector continues to rapidly expand which the Philippines aims to spread throughout the country especially with thousands of overseas Filipinos losing jobs abroad and returning back home to the Philippines. Spreading economic growth, in turn, will hopefully motivate existing developers and investors to expand beyond the National Capital Region (NCR), encourage new ones to establish presence in the Philippines, and ultimately, generate significant livelihood opportunities for Filipinos.
“In the most difficult recessions and crisis, the office sector continues to grow led by the IT-BPM sector,” said Leechiu. “We have seen a 34-to 35-percent increase in office space in April and May at the height of lockdown, and this shows the very resilience of the IT-BPM sector and how that has benefitted the Philippines.”
Leechiu further elaborated that “It is so important that in the middle of this mayhem, we have to do everything we can to develop the IT-BPM sector not just in Manila but all throughout the Philippines.” “Philippine IT-BPM will be instrumental in the country’s recovery from this health crisis so we need to be ready for the demand to start gaining momentum. This will be critical in how the world views us as a long-term investment versus our ASEAN neighbors,” said Leechiu.
Once the crisis is no longer as risky as it is now, the group will commence on promoting digital cities to IT-BPM investors noted Untal.
“We identified these digital cities on the bases that we do not see the COVID situation as being permanent. At the same time, we took into account what the implications are of the constraints that we are dealing with. When we started discussing this initiative early this year, we have lined up a very busy second half, essentially for doing the launches,” explained Untal.
Both the public and private sectors are looking for ways to continue progressing forward despite the profound impact of the ongoing pandemic on the Philippines’ economy and business environment.
Together with the Centers of Excellence and Next Wave Cities, these Digital Cities will aim to transform the Philippines in becoming a more digitally-equipped nation that will place the country in a better position to compete internationally and establish itself as one of the top premier investment destinations in the World.