Iloilo city mayor leads peers in national forum with PGMA
Iloilo City (7 November) -- City Mayor Jerry Trenas, League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) president, led the city chief executives who attended the Cities Alliance-Public Policy Forum held at the Crown Plaza Galleria Manila in Quezon City with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as guest speaker.
The three-day forum that carries the theme "Leveraging Resources for Livable Cities" is co-sponsored by the Cities Alliance, World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), UN Habitat and the LCP.
Other attendees to the forum include congressmen, members of the diplomatic corps, officials from international partner institutions, and delegates.
During the dinner reception last Monday, the President said the holding of the forum came at the time when the Philippines is "moving forward and the people are more concerned about taking advantage of our economic progress rather than the backsliding of political protest."
"People deserve peace, order and stability. We have been through many upheavals and the people deserve a stable government and economic progress. With the help of our officials here tonight, that is what they are getting now," she said.
"We like to think that even the opposition are committed to the public good and like us, that they want to find common ground to move the nation forward," she added.
The President pointed out that with some of the strongest macro-economic fundamentals in 20 years, the Philippines has achieved 27 quarters of growth, a strong peso and vibrant stock market, attracted big ticket investments that helped create six million jobs, trimmed down its huge budget deficit, and is now on the verge of totally paying off its foreign debts.
"The national agenda is focused on creating good paying jobs, stable prices and bringing the benefits of a strong economy to every single Filipino. It is a pro-poor, pro-growth, pro-modernization agenda. We have moved the nation forward on the strength of our partnership with city mayors and other local government executives who form the backbone of our government," she said.
The President said economic reforms have created a conducive environment for job-creating investments and businesses and generated the additional revenues that helped fund health insurance subsidies and other healthcare services, improved education, livelihood and housing programs for the poor.
She also congratulated Vice President Noli de Castro, members of the House of Representatives, and the entire housing sector for their achievements during the past several years which have greatly helped in improving the plight of the country's poor urban dwellers.
Over the last six years, the President said almost 200,000 families on more than 25,000 hectares of land have benefited from more than 100 urban land reform proclamations that provided security of tenure for urban slum dwellers.
In the first half of this year alone, certificates of lot allotment were awarded to more than 10,000 families, bringing the total to almost 30,000 families since the start of her administration.
The President said that more than P4 billion under the community mortgage program were loaned to 85,000 family beneficiaries to buy the land they were previously squatting on.
The President said the success of the City Development Strategy (CDS) program, funded by the Cities Alliances and implemented by the League of Cities "strengthens our belief in the power of the global system to alleviate poverty and modernize nations."
She cited the forum as a rich opportunity to share knowledge and resources among the Cities Alliance members and development partners to address urbanization, transform slums into livable communities, and make the urban poor become more fulfilled and productive members of society.
The Cities Alliance is a global coalition of cities and their development partners committed to scaling up successful approaches to urban poverty reduction through the matching of grants in support of the city development strategies (CDS).
Cities Alliance matches grants in accordance with its "Cities without Slums" action plan including promoting secure tenure, access to shelter financing, and other policies to help cities prevent the growth of new slums.
In its 2007 annual report, the Cities Alliance noted that 65 cities in the Philippines have completed their CDS and are now among the best run in the country.
The Cities Alliance added that the CDS programs are being designed to involve all 118 cities in the country which would make the Philippines the first country to achieve total coverage.
During the three-day forum, delegates will visit housing projects in Muntinlupa and Marikina Cities, and the relocation site for the affected families of the rail project in Cabuyao, Laguna.
The resolutions raised from the forum to be called the Manila Declaration would be presented by Vice President de Castro and the LCP to the World Bank and UN Habitat. (PIA) [top]