If you hover miles over Metro Manila, it will easily be the most visible city. Stretching over a vast 16,000 hectares, Quezon City occupies a fourth of the country’s National Capital Region. Its borders connect it to at least seven other cities in the metro, and is considered as a hub of economic activity and a preferred location for living, play, and leisure.

The geographical advantages are among the many strengths of what has been recognized as the most competitive city in the country by the 6th Regional Competitiveness Summit and Awards for three years in a row. In 2018, the body also named Quezon City as the most competitive in terms of economic dynamism and infrastructure.

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“In Quezon City, commitment is commitment,” Mayor Herbert Constantine “Bistek” Maclang Bautista said in his State of the City address last year. “That is why we have progressed as far as we have.” The city head has been in public service since 1986 and rose the political ranks from a youth leader, councilor, vice mayor, to mayor since 2010. For more than 32 years, Bautista has focused his career on Quezon City, along with various nationwide responsibilities. In the city’s coffee table book, Governance: Innovations and Reforms: Sharing the Breakthroughs in Urban Challenges, the mayor admits feeling like he practically grew up with the development of city.

Innovation is key to QC’s continued progress. Its government, fully aware of the ever-changing times, crafted a strategy to identify possible challenges and areas of opportunities. A grand development plan “encompasses the entire range of socioeconomic concerns, including business, infrastructure, environment, peace and order, and governance,” and focuses on “concerns that center on the people: health, education, social services, livelihood, and housing.”

It is not an easy task for a local government looking after such a populous territory. Quezon City’s “state of continuous growth and development” increases the demand for better, more efficient services for different sectors. Business groups, families, students, employees, and its most indigent residents bring various sets of expectations and needs. These have driven Mayor Bautista to prioritize ease of business, infrastructure, education, and the improvement of social services, among others.

Over 72,000 registered business establishments have benefited from operational reforms instituted to improve business registration and applications for construction and occupancy permits. The city introduced a one-stop shop in January 2018 to provide a centralized location for all transactions, assessments, and evaluations which entrepreneurs and business groups are required to complete. The local government believes these changes enabled it to top the Cities and Municipalities Competitive Index in the sub-indicators of economic dynamism and infrastructure. Through a “file and pay” approach, it reduced the interaction of corporations and single proprietors to only two.

According to Bautista’s office, the mayor’s goals with the improved processes also included cutting down on red tape and avoiding inconveniences to the public. In its 2016-2017 annual report, Quezon City reported that business taxes accounted for 51 percent of the city’s income and amounted to more than P9.5 billion in 2017.

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