Batangas: An economic powerhouse coupled with effective leadership

Metro Manila is undoubtedly the premier metropolis and cradle of development of the country.  Over the years however, many of our peri-urban and formerly rural areas have stepped up and supported the adoption of a polycentric development approach, allowing sub-centers in provinces and regions to maintain their identities, promote localization, push for specialization, even as they remained connected to the locus of the national government.

Polycentric planning seeks to disperse population, sources of employment, provisions of basic and enhanced services, and physical and social infrastructures among others, across wider areas, in order to reduce over-concentration in one location, at the same time increase accessibility to job centers, reduce congestion and cut down cost, boost growth while encouraging diversity.

Batangas Province

Ranked third largest among provincial governments, the province has assets totaling P32 Billion per the Commission on Audit’s (COA) 2022 Annual Financial Report and placed sixth in terms of revenues in 2022, per the Bureau of Local Government Finance. 

Batangas ranks 10th nationwide in the competitiveness index (DTI, 2023). Thus, it is not surprising that the province has a literacy rate of 99.4 percent, and the lowest poverty incidence in Calabarzon, at 6.3 percent of the population, as compared with the region’s 10.2 percent (PSA, 2021 FIES). 

Over the past eight years, Batangas has achieved significant gains. While it has a population of 2.9 million based on the 2020 Census, the 8th largest, Batangas has the third largest economy in the country, with a gross domestic product of P615.81 Billion in 2022, and was recognized as the fastest growing economy in the region in 2021, at 12.5 percent growth rate (PSA Provincial Products Account 2021).  The province has the largest agricultural and fisheries producer, accounting for nearly half (42.4 percent) of the regional production.  Batangas also has the second highest GDP per capita in Calabarzon. 

In addition, Batangas consistently ranks among the top tourist destinations in the Philippines, with its rich natural resources, expansive shoreline and marine biodiversity, and world-renowned Taal Volcano.  

Provincial Development and Physical Framework Plan (PDPFP)

Not resting on their laurels, the provincial government of Batangas, with the support of their Development Council, and Planning and Development Office, completed the updating of their PDPFP and has secured the approval of such Plan for the period 2022 to 2030.  

The main spatial development strategy adopts the Center-Corridor-Wedge planning approach and espouses three interrelated sub-strategies of agglomeration, connectivity, and vulnerability reduction while maintaining their role as one of the regional commercial and industrial centers.

Effective leadership

Led by Hermilando I. Mandanas, the current Governor has extensive experience in both the executive and legislative branches of government. On his third and final term, he previously served in the same position from 1995 to 2004 and was elected Congressman of the second district for three consecutive terms. He concurrently serves as the Regional Development Council chairperson, and Regional Development Council – Luzon Committee Chairperson. 

On the national front, he is known as one of the major crusaders for the correct interpretation and application of the Local Government Code’s expanding the base of the local government share of national taxes that had resulted in the Supreme Court’s landmark promulgation of the “Mandanas-Garcia Ruling”, effectively increasing the income of the local government units and strengthening their financial capacity to service their local constituents. Undeniably, such a decision will result in a far-reaching impact on the lives of the common Filipinos. 

Guided by the Governor’s HELP Program, which stands for Health, Education, Livelihood, and Protection of Life, Environment, and Property, the provincial government delivers on the needed social services; puts a premium on education through scholarships, the construction of school buildings and educational and skills training facilities in science, culture and the arts; grants technical and financial assistance in the promotion and strengthening of cooperatives and organizations; as well as focuses on the intensification and diversification programs for farm and fish production.  

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Henry L. Yap is an Architect, a Fellow of both Environmental Planning and Real Estate Management, and one of the Undersecretaries of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.