Advocacy Forum in Competitiveness: The BARMM

According to the World Economic Forum, the Philippines’ ranking in global competitiveness is 64th out of 140 countries. This ranking reflects the standard of living in the country, adaunting reality we all have to accept. But what is competitiveness, and why does it matter? To provide a more comprehensive answer to these questions, we must take a look at the Cities and Municipalities Index (CMCI).

The CMCI is an annual ranking of Philippine cities and municipalities managed by the Regional Competitiveness Committees (RCCs). It is a program that measures the performance of Local Government Units (LGUs) on five pillars: Economic Dynamism, Government Efficiency, Infrastructure, Resiliency, and Innovation. To put it in simple words, it refers to how a city or municipality utilizes its resources to improve the standard of living within the said area. In addition, the CMCI is used as a tool in policymaking, program implementation, and project formulation. With the recent inclusion of BARMM in the CMCI, it is integral that LGUs, in BARMM, submit the data needed to determine the overall ranking and score of cities and municipalities therein.

Having complete data in CMCI is paramount as it can provide a lot of benefits in BARMM. The employment of the CMCI can help the public sector, private sector, and academe in many ways such as identifying areas of improvement, insight for policymaking & development planning, further research in the academe, etc. Moreover, the data collected for CMCI can be utilized as a benchmark by the LGUs to gauge their level of competitiveness and provide solutions to existing problems. As chairman Hussein Lidasan (a professor/director of Graduate Studies School of Urban and Regional Planning (UP-SURP) and the deputy director of the Office of Design and Planning Initiatives in The University of the Philippines) said, “The CMCI is an opportunity. It can provide subregular operation and foster interrelationship among LGUs through complimenting and supplementing.” A good example of complimenting and supplementing would be in the business sector; if a city is in need of a product, this can be seen in the data collected in CMCI and can easily be rectified by looking at the resources of neighboring cities and municipalities.

With all that said, BARMM is still struggling with data collection. It is by far the biggest hurdle the region is facing with regards to CMCI. This is very apparent when Sittie Asmalia Cornell a Statistical Specialist II in the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA BARMM) stated, “how can we estimate the production and competitiveness of our LGUs if we don’t have enough evidence and data?” She has appealed to the LGUs to submit data and support the advocacies of the office. Data scarcity is common as we do not have effective guidelines to address the need of procuring more data. Hence, there must be an initiative to put forward a national database system that is both comprehensive and unified. But before that, we need to have a complete and growing local government database.

Indeed, the CMCI must be annually completed across all local government units to get an overall idea about the standard of living in the BARMM region and see the gaps and interventions needed to provide and improve competitiveness. All LGUs in the BARMM region must strive and yearn to pass CMCI to provide a more conducive living environment for the Bangsamoro people.

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