THE government and the private sector have identified 25 areas across the Philippines that will receive immense support for the development of new information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) hubs as part of efforts to boost investment and livelihood generation in the countryside.
The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) on Tuesday announced the 25 cities nationwide that will get assistance from both state and the private sector for the setup of new IT investments. Ibpap President and CEO Rey E. Untal said these locations will serve as the countryside alternatives to Metro Manila for IT-BPM investors.
In alphabetical arrangement, these 25 digital cities are: Balanga; Batangas City; Cabanatuan; Dagupan; General Santos City; Iligan City; Iriga; Laguna cluster of Los Baños, Calamba and San Pablo; Laoag City; Legazpi City; Malolos; Metro Cavite; Metro Rizal; Olongapo City; Puerto Princesa; Roxas City; San Fernando, La Union; San Fernando, Pampanga; San Jose del Monte; Tacloban; Tagbilaran; Tarlac City; Tuguegarao City; Urdaneta; and Zamboanga City.
“They will receive the support of the DICT [Department of Information and Communications Technology], LGUs, industry leaders and academe, combined with the assistance of these multiple stakeholders, to ensure progress in terms of institutional development, talent development, infrastructure development, and marketing and promotion,” Untal explained.
With the identification, these 25 cities are expected to take much of the expansion projects in the countryside of existing IT firms operating in Metro Manila.
“We will hopefully motivate existing investors to expand to these places, attract new investors to them and in general help in their economic development,” Untal said.
Leechiu Property Consultants CEO David Leechiu said it is crucial to improve the infrastructure and talent viability of these digital cities for them to be a magnet for investments. He said the IT-BPM sector continues to grow even in these trying times, and it is ideal to share this growth to the countryside.
“In the most difficult recessions and crisis, the office sector continues to grow led by the IT-BPM sector,” he said. “We have seen a 34- to 35-percent increase in office space in April and May at the height of lockdown, and this shows the very resilience of the IT-BPM sector and how that has benefitted the Philippines.”
“It is so important that in the middle of this mayhem, we have to do everything we can to develop the IT-BPM sector not just in Manila but all throughout the Philippines,” he added.
According to Untal, the Ibpap is just waiting for the pandemic to be over with. Once the crisis is addressed and the situation is no longer as risky as now, the group will conduct launches of the digital cities to promote them to IT-BPM investors.
“We identified these digital cities on the bases that we do not see the Covid situation as being permanent. At the same time, we took into account what the implications are of the constraints that we are dealing with. When we started discussing this initiative early this year, we have lined up a very busy second half, essentially for doing the launches,” Untal reported.
However, he did not disclose how much capital investments they are expecting to be poured into the identified locations as a result of their promotion as IT-BPM hubs. He said the targets will come right after the launches are carried out and the situation becomes clear.
Data from the Leechiu Property Consultants showed that 82 percent of the 1.75 million square meters office space consumed last year was in Metro Manila. Bulk of those office spaces went to the usual IT-BPM spots of Bay Area, Quezon City, Taguig, Makati, Ortigas and Alabang.
Much of the remaining 18 percent, on the other hand, went into the traditional metro areas outside of the capital region, namely, Cebu, Clark, Cavite, Iloilo and Bohol.