Local Economic Affairs Development (LEAD) Council Forum with Stakeholders and the Private Sector (Sangguniang Panlungsod Session Hall, City Hall, Sunrise)
March 13, 2023 | Isabela City, Basilan – Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman met with former BCDA President & CEO Atty. Arnel Casanova to discuss potential investment sites and prospects for collaboration and alignment of goals and direction on Day 2 of their Agro-Industrial & Tourism Investment Tour of what we envision would soon be the Sustainable City of the South – the City of Isabela de Basilan
Atty. Arnel Casanova shared insights culled from the Agro-Industrial & Tourism Investment Tour conducted on March 12 and suggested possible investments into agribusiness, light industry and tourism, as well as potential infrastructure developments which will be vital for the continuous upward trajectory of the City’s economic growth which skyrocketed 28.19% in 2021, at the height of the pandemic.
The group, accompanied by Fadz Casanova Architect Bea Paragas, CPDO Engr Gay Palagtiosa, Tourism Officer Claudio Ramos II, OIC City Engr Reynaldo Dagohoy, BPLO Albert Porticos, and Isabela City L E D I P O Jamju A. Rivera, toured several agro-industrial and tourism sites in all of the City’s five (5) identified kawmans (growth areas), namely – (1) Isabela City Business District; (2) Malamawi Island; (3) Isabela East; (4) Isabela West; (5) Upland Isabela.
The tour and subsequent private sector forum aims to give Casanova’s team a bird’s eye view of the city, its prospects for growth, the type of potential investors who would be interested in the City’s comparative advantages, and what further improvements may be done to prepare the city for the influx of possible investors.
The City, of course, has been on a journey of transformation since 2019, with a vibrant economy recognized as the 3rd Most Improved in terms of competitiveness and business friendliness in 2021 by the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index, and then again in 2022 as the 7th Most Improved, jumping from 101st to 64th place (in a field of only 116) in just two years.
To top these all off, the entire City Government of Isabela de Basilan was awarded ISO 9001 : 2015 by Veritas Assurance, the first and only LGU to have succeeded in doing so in the region.
Mayor Turabin-Hataman adds, however, that all these reforms and accolades will come to naught if we cannot translate these to real pesos and cents in the hands of our growing private sector, food security that will ensure adequate nourishment for our families, and personal development thru quality education, gainful employment and a business environment that is conducive to entrepreneurship and investment.
The collaboration with Atty Casanova and his team, aims to accomplish these lofty goals of transforming Isabela City into a vibrant, innovative, dynamic and actualized urban/rural hub.
“Isabela City is at the cusp of an economic takeoff” says Atty Casanova who helmed BCDA when it effected the conversion of the United States’ Clark Air Force Base at Angeles, Pampanga into the Clark City Free Port Zone; and more recently converting the former Government-owned Fort Bonifacio in Taguig, into the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) a 300-hectare development which transformed the landscape of Metro Manila into a world-class business destination at par with Bangkok, Thailand or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “We have to grab this opportunity for exponential growth, but we need to build a city with a soul and an identity.” he added.
In her message, Mayor Turabin-Hataman expressed her appreciation to Atty. Casanova for taking note of the huge potential for economic development in Isabela City, while fully recognizing its hardworking, resilient, happy and engaged citizenry, the true linchpin to realizing the city’s “economic takeoff”.
The Mayor likewise highlighted engagements with Atty Casanova and his team on revisions to our Local Revenue Code, the establishment of the Isabela City Development Corporation, which like BCDA, is envisioned to build new high growth districts for the City and manage/operate Local Economic Enterprises for local revenue growth, as well as formalize a Master Plan for Citywide Development with an emphasis on Public Private Partnerships (PPP), especially in the light of our positive and sustained economic growth indicators.
“Malaking tulong pag nagtutulungan ang public at private sector. Hindi dapat nagco-compete kundi dapat nagco-complement. Marami tayong local resources na hindi lang talaga nata-tap at nadi-develop.”
The meeting was followed by an open forum in which the attendees shared ideas for collaboration between and among the City LGU, the private sector, the NGOs and civic organizations, national line agencies and investors.
Mayor Turabin-Hataman concluded the forum with a quote, “kaya naming mangarap, pero kailangan namin ng katuwang sa pagtupad ng pangarap na yon…”
Atty Casanova and team will be coming back soon and often, enamored by the story, the sites and the people of Isabela de Basilan, committed to work with all Isabeleños in transforming our one and only Hapisabela!