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Rough Cuts | After COVID-19, will ‘showroom’ tag remain?

In God’s time the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will come to its end. That is, if the people will make sacrifices and obey whole-heartedly the various protocols laid down by the government especially in the matter of restrictions imposed.

We all know that despite the apparent compliance by most of the Filipinos, including the nearing 2 million Davao residents, there are those who go with the government’s bidding even grudgingly. Their reason is that they believe that the protocols are curtailing their rights to life; to their freedom of movement.

There are, however, strong indications that the very “God’s time” of the disappearance of the deadly virus can already be felt. That is why we now have several provinces and cities whose categories in the level of quarantine have already been down-graded from that of “Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to the General Community Quarantine or GCQ. The latter category allows the start of operation of businesses leading to the re-opening of the country’s economy. The former category though maintains the different restrictions imposed under the pandemic response protocols.

In the case of Davao City, it is the only local government unit (LGU) in the whole of Mindanao that has remained under the ECQ. Nevertheless, the most recent data on the COVID-19 cases and the LGU’s COVID-19 response performance show that the southern Mindanao metropolis may already qualify for a down-grade to GCQ.

So, with the people’s vigilance and compliance with such policies as social distancing, wearing of face mask, no crowd gathering functions, and “stay home-stay safe” strategies, Davao City’s economy will be back on its feet may be much sooner than expected, and, without doubt, “with vengeance!”

And why not when our city has been acknowledged as the “showroom to the world” both by political and business leaders, during the many Investment Conferences held here before the onset of the deadly virus?

We have the primary resources that can attract potential foreign investors, government leaders, and even tourists who are out to splurge their money in places they feel can give them their desired ROIs (Return of Investments), whether money or pleasure.

With more focus on tourism-related businesses there are things, more specifically natural resources, which could become strong come-ons for investors. But most of these resources are still waiting to be discovered and tapped. We are referring to some tourist attractions that are hidden in the upland areas of Davao City that can best be made alternative offers in lieu of the city’s lack of beautiful beaches within its jurisdiction.

In other words, what the city does not have on its shorelines there are plenty in the fastness of its remaining jungle. Some of these include waterfalls, vantage areas to see some of the city’s panoramic views, challenging rapids and steep climbs for the adventurous, and some potential game hunting sites.

And if the declaration by government that the city’s so-called “last frontiers” the likes of Paquibato, Toril and Marilog highlands are really free from the clutches of the communist insurgents, then there will be no more stopping the journey towards developing the upland natural resources into potential major money earners for the city.

Besides, it is common knowledge that Davao has all the basic services that are necessary to convince investors to put in their capital here.

And there is assurance that whatever businesses they intend to locate in the city will continue operating even on a 24-365/66 basis. Also, they will never be isolated from any of the intended markets for their products and services.

This is so because Davao City has stable supply of quality power, a massive reservoir of one of the world’s best quality water, and the strong presence of communication facilities and infrastructures.

But then, again, the city being a “showroom” to the world is not the end in the tortuous road to development. It is only the means for the city to attain its desired level of socio-economic aspirations.

Thus, we believe that what Davao City has in terms of resources must be matched with policies that are business-friendly. The LGU officials must also be “friendly” to investors and are well aware of the campaign of former city mayor and now President Rodrigo R. Duterte not to make it hard for businessmen to process their licenses and other operating permits.

And by “business-friendly” policies of the city we do not mean that such can be used to approve businesses that, sooner or later, will destroy the city’s environment, and in the long-run, the businesses of the investors. Those policies are, without doubt, bad for the economy.

Of course we have the top guy at the Davao City Investment Promotion Center (DCIPC) proudly claiming that the “business-friendly” policies of the city are already in place. The DCIPC executive even further said that the policies are being “emulated across the country.”

We can only hope that the guy is not raising his own bench and the very policies that he is banding around are not mere documents but already put in actual practice.

The city though, might need to reexamine its policies when it will start its development journey under the so-called “new normal” once the pandemic is tamed down.

After all, as the late Beatle John Lennon said, “Life still happens when you are making other plans.”

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