Connecting the regions

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WAY back in the late 60s and well into the 70s, radical activists quoted liberally from their bible, “Philippine Society and Revolution”, particularly its description of the country’s economic development through various postwar regimes as “uneven and spasmodic.”

Uneven because the regions closest to the seat of political and economic power enjoyed higher growth rates and better living conditions than those in the periphery, and spasmodic because growth came in fits and starts since the ruling elite controlled the country’s resources and concentrated these only in areas that offered optimum opportunity to make profit.

Fast forward to today—five long decades later—and it appears that the same uneven and spasmodic development still holds true, as a number of regions, including Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Caraga and ARMM, have yet to lift themselves up from poverty even as Metro Manila and other urban centers enjoy unprecedented growth.

For the Duterte administration, the “Build Build Build” infrastructure program is precisely what would galvanize economic development in the poor regions of the country, make them better connected and address socioeconomic inequities by improving efficiency and productivity for further growth.

What’s lamentable, according to the National Economic Development Authority, is that despite the increase in the Gross Regional Domestic Product of many regions last year, the National Capital Region remains the top contributor to the country’s GDP.

That may soon change, however, as the pace of Build Build Build implementation shifts to high gear. The P9-trillion budget allotment over five years until 2022 will build more roads and bridges, rail transport systems, airports and seaports, among others, that will allow the economically backward regions to catch up with the more affluent ones and thereby make uneven and spasmodic growth a thing of the past, and therefore, as Marx and Engels said in the “Communist Manifesto”, perhaps better suited to the Museum of Antiquities.

p: wjg

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