The three-part series of regional consultations on competitiveness organized and facilitated by ISA together with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) drew to a close as the third and last dialoguethis time with Region IIwas held last October 8 to 9, 2019 in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. Designed to engage the public and private sector to define common goals in relation to regional competitiveness, this session gathered key officials from the local government, business sector, academe, civil society, and local chambers of commerce and provided an avenue for meaningful collaboration. 

The program opened with remarks from Ms. Leah Pulido Ocampo, Regional Director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Region II. This was followed by a keynote address by ISA Chairman Emeritus and Founder Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao, who offered insight into the future of competitiveness governance through the development of a national roadmap. Afterwards, the competitiveness situationer was laid out by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Region II, prompting officials to set the region’s strategic position to be a leading sustainable agri-industrial hub and a preferred tourism destination in Luzon (by 2023) and the Philippines (by 2028). 

Later that day, breakout sessions were facilitated to allow the attendees to define the key result areas and their respective strategic deliverables. Ending the dialogue was the formulation of the private sector-led Regional Policy Change Advocacy Clusters (RPCAC) whose members will be taking ownership of the strategic roadmap on their individual capacity, alongside the regional councils of DTI and NEDA.

In the first meeting of Region II’s RPCAC, they appointed as Chairman Mr. Cloyd Velasco, Regional Governor of the Region II Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. DTI also expressed commitment to allocate a budget for the continuous development of the Region II competitiveness roadmap until it is fully viable for implementation. Meanwhile, members of the RPCAC explored potential partnerships with other government agencies, as well as members of the academe and civil society for the same pursuit. 

Throughout this year, the regional competitiveness dialogues have paved the way for remarkable turning points for the pilot regions. Cebu has committed to combat silos by strengthening intra-regional linkages while Cagayan de Oro has begun addressing gaps in policies and programs related to competitiveness. Now, Region II completes the lineup, vowing to scale up the alignment of different sectors towards one vision. It is the hope of ISA and CIPE to continue the dialogue series for other regions in the future in order to cover the weak spots that hinder the country’s march towards economic prosperity. With an initiative like this, a significant step is made towards what Dr. Estanislao called the “whole of nation approach” to competitiveness.