The future of Iloilo City as the nation’s next investment hub is, indeed, never brighter than the present time.
Recently, another investor came to us offering a P500-million investment portfolio. The appealing proposal is to convert the defunct Rotary Park at the Fort San Pedro area into a modern shopping mall complete with a hotel and other services. The investor is also throwing in a ferry terminal for pump boats plying the Iloilo-Guimaras strait route.
Unfortunately, we may have to defer this proposal until the issuance of a Presidential Proclamation. The national government owns Rotary Park, and we’re seeking to have the ownership transferred to the city government before any development of the place can start. Anyway, a draft proclamation is now in Malacañang awaiting the President’s signature.
The area selected by this investor is also the proposed site for the Guimaras Iloilo Ferry Terminal (GIFT) Project under the Private Public Partnership (PPP) program of the President. I see the GIFT Project modernizing and expanding the passenger ferry terminal in Iloilo City, including the municipal ports of Jordan and Buenavista in Guimaras.
Anyway, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is ready to extend the credit facility to fund the Private group who would like to partner with the city government.
The Lopez Group of Companies is also interested in putting up major development projects in Iloilo City. Rafael Alunan III, president of the First Philippine Infrastructure Development Corp. under the Lopez Group, recently visited us to look about the possibility of conducting business investments. The former DILG Secretary also offered to help the city attain its development goals.
Many investors are now training their sights on Iloilo City because they see dynamic potential writ all over our metropolitan landscape. No investor will dare put up venture capital in a dry location and Iloilo City simply promises good returns on investment.
Some of the current investment opportunities in Iloilo City are developing tourism circuits and community-based tourism, and diversification of urban tourism products. As a matter of fact, MIGEDC (Metro Iloilo Guimaras Development Council) recently was granted a P10-million grant for tourism by the Local Government Services Program. We also have crystal business opportunities awaiting investors to revitalize the historic Iloilo City Business District, upgrading of seaports and ferry terminals, and investments on resorts, business hotels, and multi-purpose centers.
Apart from tourism, the city also offers potentials and opportunities in agribusiness and information technology. Prospective investors who get to read this article can just see me at City Hall and present their proposals. We have many incentives to offer that space prevents us from listing here.
The reason big name investors are casting serious business looks our way is simple. Iloilo City’s central location and our closeness to Asian markets is an asset not many cities in the country have. We are blessed with a natural harbor, and we have excellent land-sea access from several points in the archipelago via the Philippine Nautical Highway. We have excellent air access to domestic markets.
And speaking of excellent air access, I am happy to report the airport in Cabatuan, Iloilo will soon allow international airplanes to land and receive passengers for other countries.
I have personally requested President Benigno Aquino III on his visit last April 1st to include Iloilo Airport in the open-sky policy. This was announced by DOT Secretary Alberto Lim that may open direct flights to Hong Kong, China, and Korea, where Ilonggo overseas contract workers, tourists and investors can directly fly to and out of Iloilo as they will no longer pass the international airports of Cebu or Manila on their way here.
I have complete trust in the President’s assurances. This gives me total optimism that we will soon experience the open-sky policy for the Iloilo Airport as this serves as gateway to Iloilo City and the rest of Panay.
I’ve said it many times before. The city government has many plans to fulfill, and we contrive most of them to make Iloilo City a tourist destination, a hub for long-term investments, and a place where everyone will love to be at.
Our visions include everyone and these visions are all about making Iloilo City THE place to live, THE place to work, THE place to be, THE place we could be proud of.
Criticisms, whether deserved or undeserved, are thrown now and then to this public servant for my zeal and determination to make Iloilo City a place every Ilonggo can be proud of. But I take them all in stride, careful not to lose focus in pursuit of the vision.
Let me just say we can achieve the vision. With your help, we can make it a reality sooner than we think.*