[15 November 2011] -- One of the highlights of a recent Cities Alliance mission to the Philippines was a courtesy visit to His Excellency Jejomar C. Binay, Philippine Vice President and Chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), which represents the Republic of the Philippines on the Cities Alliance Consultative Board.
The visit took place at Coconut Palace, Vice President Binay’s architecturally and culturally unique official residence.
Vice President Binay (centre right) receiving the Cities Alliance delegation. Photo: Chii Akporji/Cities Alliance
The delegation to the Coconut Palace comprised Cities Alliance Manager, William Cobbett and World Bank Acting Country Director for the Philippines, Chiyo Kanda. They were joined by Mark Woodward, Sector Manager for Sustainable Development; Yan Zhang, Country Sector Coordinator; and Chris T. Pablo, Senior Urban Development Specialist, all of the Philippine country office. Chii Akporji, Cities Alliance Communications Officer was also part of the delegation.
Receiving the delegation from the Vice President’s office was Ms. Celia Alba, Senior Advisor on Housing to the Vice President and an old friend of Cities Alliance.
Vice President Binay warmly welcomed the visitors and as Chair of HUDCC he outlined the scope of the urban problems in the Philippines, the successes recorded as well as his vision for the strengthened partnership between Cities Alliance and the Philippines. According to the Vice President, "Cities are the engines of growth," thus there is a need to prioritise a national urban development framework to manage the process of urbanisation that will empower and harness the full capacity of local governments in promoting sustainable development, environmental awareness and equitable growth.
He pointed to a growing national housing backlog with estimates at 3.6 million, and approximately 1 percent of GDP being appropriated for housing. He also spoke of government efforts to continually address this backlog, including the setting aside of 10 billion Filipino Pesos (approx. USD 230 million) for housing in the new national budget and the ongoing legislative efforts to create a new Department of Housing and Urban Development, to be merged with HUDCC.
He welcomed the continuing Cities Alliance and World Bank support of his government’s efforts, beginning with the implementation of a CDS programme now completing its third Phase, the enabling of the establishment of the League of Philippine Cities (LCP) a network of Philippine Cities, the signing of a grant to support a National Slum Upgrading Strategy during his visit to Washington DC in June this year and most recently, the grant support to the League of Cities of the Philippines for a Knowledge Management and Exchange System for City Managers.
In response Cities Alliance Manager William Cobbett welcomed the Vice President’s appreciation of the Partnership with Cities Alliance and its implementing partner in the country, the World Bank. He singled out the Philippines as a leader in the institutionalisation of the CDS process not only in the region but also globally.
He spoke of the need to continually draw on the lessons of the Philippine experience as well as that of other middle income countries in the Cities Alliance Partnership, Brazil and South Africa for the benefit of other countries and of expanding the knowledge base to include learning from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Mr. Cobbett also elaborated Cities Alliance’s new Business Plan and operating model, the shift from short-term interventions to country programmes, longer term and programmatic engagement with stakeholders in selected countries and the from the open access grant facility to the Catalytic Fund.
Following a group photo with the VP, the delegation was treated to a specially arranged tour of the Coconut Palace.
Coconut Palace, Vice President Binay's architecturally unique official residence. Photo: Chii Akporji/Cities Alliance