Iloilo City is most business-friendly

Efforts to ease business transactions, improve environmental resilience, and cultural revival earned Iloilo City the citation of most business friendly city outside the National Capital Region. (Screen grab from drone video of Brynh Hope Tulunga)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

ILOILO CITY is the 2019 Most Business–Friendly Highly Urbanized City (HUC) outside Metro Manila, an award given by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Mayor Jerry Treñas announced.

Kita nagdaog sa pinaka-business friendly HUC outside Manila and the awarding will be on October 17, 2019,” Treñas said.

The PCCI recognizes local government units (LGUs) that have shown outstanding efforts in instituting good governance reforms to promote trade and investments, transparency, accountability, and efficiency in delivering business services.

This year, the awarding ceremonies will be at the Manila Hotel with President Rodrigo Duterte expected to keynote the event.

Francis T. Cruz, officer-in-charge of the Information Systems Office and Local Economic and Investments Promotion Office, presented Iloilo City’s profile to the search committee in Metro Manila on Oct 2, 2019.

Cruz said Iloilo City bested 15 finalists in the search. This is also the first time that the city topped the search since joining in 2013 where it landed second next to Mandaluyong City. At that time, all highly urbanized cities in the National Capital Region and other regions were lumped in one category.

“I was the only one who made the presentation while other cities brought with them a team. They had their own cheerleaders. But I am happy that we hurdled the search and won the top citation,” he added.

Cruz said they managed to present the city’s potentials and advantages despite the short notice from the organizers.

“It was done rather quickly but we managed to make a good presentation with the help of LEIPO,” he added.

With the recognition, Treñas assured that the city government will continue its efforts to provide a business-friendly environment for investors and entrepreneurs.

Everyone wants to know if we can receive businesses well and mahapos para sa ila amo na nga ginapaubra ta ang Iloilo nga mangin business-friendly, we want everyone who comes here nga mahapos para sa ila,” he said.

In its bid to provide a business-friendly environment to investors, Treñas said services in the City Hall particularly in the Office of the Building Official (OBO) and the controversial Local Civil Registrar Office (LCRO) will be digitized within the year.

“We will make sure na diri sa aton siyudad mahapos ang tanan so maumpisa kita sa LCRO and sa OBO, idigitize ta na. Sang nagligad ginpareclassify ko naman ang aton nga zoning para mahapos na ang mga investors magsulod,” he said.

The mayor also announced upcoming infrastructures and business opportunities that are coming to Iloilo City.

Treñas said that two potential Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) investors who visited his office last week intimated their plans to open up their businesses in the city.

“There’s one company that will be opening and they are looking for 1,000 nurses. Another one also discussed their plan to open here in the city,” he said.

The mayor also mentioned the plan of SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. (SMHCC) to put a new SMX Convention Center in the metro.

The third standalone property will be strategically located beside Park Inn by Radisson Iloilo and SM City Iloilo in Mandurriao district.

The SMX Convention Center eyes a 4,000-seat facility with three halls, three function rooms, and 14 meeting rooms.

“Recently, we launched the campaign plan of Iloilo City as the top Meeting, Incentives, Convention, and Exhibit (MICE) destination and sa ila ipaubra nga SMX and it will be a bigger convention center with many function rooms so meaning to say we really have to promote Iloilo so that we can fill up the convention centers, fill up the hotels, may negosyo ang mga taxi drivers naton, ang mga restaurants, ang mga nagaubra sang pasalubong nga pwede mabakal sang mga bisita naton,” he said.



Among the city’s key advantages in Cruz’s presentation to the PCCI were:

  • designation of a Local Economic and Investment Promotion Officer in order to facilitate an aggressive and sustained economic and investment promotion and marketing which will foster enhanced economic activities for Iloilo City;
  • 8 operating PEZA IT Center and Parks and one Tourism Economic Zone which house more than 72 IT-BPM companies with 26,800 full-time employees and created more than 107,000 indirect jobs for the Ilonggos;
  • increasing number of new business registrations every year which translated into an increase in revenue of Registered Businesses from 116.65-Billion pesos in 2017 to 129.57-Billion pesos in 2018;
  • streamlined the Business Permits and Licensing System into a 3-step, one-time assessment, one-time payment scheme.
  • a business one-stop shop during renewal period involving different offices in the permitting process;
  • designated Priority Lanes for Senior Citizens, Persons with Disability and Pregnant.
  • acceptance of business renewal applications via email and allocation of a Special Lane for payment for on-line applicants;
  • currently working for the on-line payment of business and real property taxes to be implemented next year;
  • initiated the setting-up of a temporary One-Stop Shop for Construction Permits (OSCP) at the City Engineer’s Office;
  • City Government offers fiscal and non-fiscal incentives including Income Tax Holidays;
  • enacted an Ordinance Providing Additional Incentives to business owners who will function as co-operators in the preservation and/or restoration of Structures Declared or to be Declared as Historical or Heritage Sites by the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council;
  • developed and improve road networks for faster and easier access;
  • strengthened partnership and collaboration with the private sector and national government agencies;

The presentation also included disaster resilience efforts such as the establishment of a state-of-the-art Iloilo City Action and Command Center and deployment of 20 sensors for ground shaking and rain gauges from the Taipei Emergency Operations Center in partnership with the National Resilience Council and Megaworld Corp.