Shining Public-Private Partnership in Southern Leyte
The successful hosting of the 2nd Eastern Visayas Business Conference on April 25-26, 2012 by the So. Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SLCCI) and the provincial government clearly illustrated Southern Leyte’s unique brand of Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
As revealed by Gov. Damian Mercado, many political analysts from within and outside the province were “puzzled” by the strong partnership between SLCCI and the provincial government considering that SLCCI’s president Engr. Robert Castañares was one of the strongest political opponents of the Mercados in previous elections.
This kind of development in Southern Leyte would probably qualify in the politics edition of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”, if ever there is one, the governor quipped.
In his speech however Gov. Mercado was “generous” enough to share the so-called three major factors why PPP is successful in their province , hoping the participating businessmen and their local leaders will learn from So. Leyte’s humble experience:
“We are bound by our genuine concern for the people in Southern Leyte. It is even beyond the written vision and mission. It transcends politics. It allows us to set aside our political agenda and personal ambitions. The operative word is “genuine”. It is simple but not easy. It should come from within. You cannot force another person to genuinely care for you. It is either zero or 100 percent, there is no in between.
We are both business-minded. We know the numbers. It will not take us long to decide on a certain project. In fact, you will probably not believe this, but our meetings would normally last for only a few minutes because both of us do a complete staff work of the issues that we want to discuss before we go to the meeting. Both of us are action-oriented and we do not want to waste our time talking. A classic example would be the Southern Leyte Tourism Development Framework which they presented to me for approval. I approved it right after the presentation because it was the kind of tourism plan that I wanted to implement ever since I became the Governor. I was very grateful to the chamber for crafting the province’s tourism strategy.
We treat elections like a boxing match. We throw all our punches during the campaign except personal attacks and insults that could mean to hurt our feelings including that of our family members. We focus only on issues. Then, we revert back to being friends after the dust has settled down. After all, we shared the same dream for Southern Leyte.”
SLCCI, in partnership with the provincial government is in the forefront of establishing Southern Leyte as, “The Playground of Eastern Visayas,” Gov. Mercado added.
Another initiative by SLCCI is the crafting of the Southern Leyte Coconut Industry Revival Strategy which aims to increase the province’s coconut harvest of up to the level of its potential production output. And Gov. Mercado has already given his commitment to support them in this agricultural project.
It was learned from Gov. Mercado that SLCCI is doing all these economic and tourism development plans and studies without official funding support from the government. This means that members of SLCCI are using their personal time and own resources in these endeavors without complain from any of them.
Out of this congenial partnership, So. Leyte takes pride in introducing its five tourism hubs which they believe would steer economic development in the province and the region.
First is the Agas-Agas Adventure Park for extreme sports enthusiasts , featuring its “fastest, longest, and tallest” Zipline facility in the Visayas plus cable cars, bungee jumping and all-terrain-vehicles amenities in the coming months. Second is the MAASIN ZOO, which had its soft opening last April 26. The ZOO is situated inside the 300-hectare manmade forest at Danao Forest Park, around 13 kms. north from the city proper. According to Gov. Mercado, the ZOO will give a chance to more than one million elementary and high school students in Eastern Visayas to see live exotic animals and plants without having to go to Manila Zoo. The other three projects on the pipeline are: Canopy Walk in Silago, development of Napantau Dive Resort in San Francisco town on Panaon Island, and the Limasawa historical landmark, with its 100-meter high cross in the island equipped with elevator, coffee shops, observation deck and other amenities for visitors.
Indeed So. Leyte’s style of Public-Private Partnership is their own little way of making Eastern Visayas region a better place. (Comments at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By: Ronald O. Reyes
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