by Leo Reyes on 18/06/08 at 10:41 am
About the Philippines richest city and the City Mayor who made it possible.
Quezon City is not only the largest City in Metro Manila, it is also the richest in the country and home to popular institutions like the Batasang Pambansa (National Legislature), the University of the Philippines, the world-famous Araneta Coliseum, where Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fought for the heavyweight championship of the world, dubbed as “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975, People Power Monument, Camps Aguinaldo and Crame, Ateneo de Manila University, among others.
This city got its name from Manuel L. Quezon, the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth. Quezon City has a land area of about 160 square kilometers which is about 25% of Metro Manila in terms of land area. It is located in the heartland of Metro Manila, with a population of about 2.7 million people. It has four (4) congressional districts represented each by a congressman or a member of the House of Representatives. The Mayor is head of the City and the Vice Mayor is the Presiding Officer of the City Council. The Council is made up of elected Councilors representing their Districts.
The local government of Quezon City is headed by Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. He was elected as City Mayor in 2001 and will serve until 2010. When Mayor Belmonte was elected in 2001, he inherited a bankrupt government. The city was heavily indebted and unable to pay more than a billion pesos to various suppliers and contractors. The City was poorly managed and could not deliver the basic services to the residents.
In less than three (3) years, Mayor Belmonte was able to turn the City into the richest City in the Philippines. How did he do it? He first instituted the needed reforms like streamlining and computerizing the revenue assessment and collection functions of the city. He was able to develop a database that contains 400,000 property units capable of serving 20.000 taxpayer transactions per day .He likewise overhauled the garbage collection and payment system and instituted other needed fiscal management reforms aimed at generating more revenues for the city. He eventually made substantial savings by streamlining the garbage collection system and reduce the incidence of graft and corruption in most operating departments of the City.
One of the known contributory factors that led to the enrichment of the city’s coffers was the aggressive collection efforts by the City Treasury in collecting real estate taxes. The City was able to collect substantial amount from the residents who were in arrears in their property taxes. Most of the tax delinquent residents were threatened with immediate foreclosure and auction of properties due to non-payment of taxes that remained unpaid for many years. The city offered concessions like extended payment terms, discounts, etc. Tax amnesty option was likewise made available to residents. He also got rid of about 3,000 casual employees; most of them are political appointees. These innovative policies proved effective and the residents cooperated when they realized that the Mayor was serious in his tax collection efforts.
Today, the city government continues to generate substantial revenues in the form of income and business taxes. The residents have cooperated while the business community continues to support the Mayor in his programs for people of Quezon City. One of the reasons why city continues to get the needed support of the residents is the visible infrastructures that are being implemented by the city. This includes concreting of roads, construction of school buildings, markets, housing for the poor and other public utilities. For sure, the residents will continue to support the administration of Mayor Belmonte for as long as they see where their taxes go.
Because of the healthy financial position of the city, the Mayor has embarked into building state of the art infrastructures for the business community. These include among others, the transformation of part of the UP Campus into a modern business hub where multinational offices and business process outsourcing are relocating and the conversion of the Timog-Tomas Morato area into a Tourism Zone.
About the Mayor
Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.is a former Congressman and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Former President of Philippine Airlines and GSIS, former President of Philippine Jaycees and Jaycee International, a Paul Harris Fellow for Rotary International, Mr. Belmonte is a Lawyer. His late wife, Betty Go-Belmonte was the founder of Philippine Star, a major Philippine Newspaper. He also served in various capacities in the Executive Branch of the Government and in major private corporations in the Philippines.