LAST SOCA. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio delivers her State of the City Address (SOCA) on Thursday (March 17, 2022) as she bids farewell to the Dabawenyos. She is the running-mate of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (Screengrab) 

DAVAO CITY – Before leaving her office, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Thursday took pride in announcing the city has earned the eighth spot in the Commission of Audit's (COA) Top 10 Richest Cities in the Philippines as of December 2021.

COA's 2020 Annual Financial Report, released in December 2021, showed that Davao City has accumulated total assets amounting to PHP23 billion above the cities of Caloocan and Zamboanga.

Davao City made it to the list of Top 10 Richest Cities in terms of total assets in 2016, according to COA report, just when her father Rodrigo Duterte was elected to the highest executive position of the land and her taking over the mayoral seat.

The report mentioned Davao City ranked ninth with PHP9.899 billion in assets. It bumped Zamboanga City (2015’s 10th placer) off the list.

"For the past five years, by building the necessary infrastructure, by boosting our income generation, and by keeping our communities safe, we have made a stronger Davao. But the real strength of Davao City, the backbone of any community, is its people," Duterte-Carpio in her State of the City Address which she dubbed as her Valedictory Address.

She underscored that her administration focused on employment and social services to secure the welfare of her underlings.

Amid the pandemic, the city's poverty incidence recorded a low 8.9 percent in the first quarter of 2021 -- a significant improvement from the 11.3 percent in the same period in 2018, as shown from the data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in the Davao Region.

Duterte-Carpio said partnerships with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) were solidified as several job fairs were conducted to provide employment and training for the Dabawenyos.

She said over 120,000 job starters, displaced workers, students, and out-of-school youths through the Government Internship Program, Job Start Program Philippines, the Tulong Pangkabuhayan Sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers (TUPAD) Program, and the Special Program for Employment of Students benefitted from the series of job fairs initiated by the city.

She even attributed these efforts to the recognition of the city's Public Employment Service Office (PESO) by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as the Top Performing PESO in the employment programs. The city's PESO is also a recipient of the 2020 DOLE Secretary's Award for Bayanihan Service in the Highly Urbanized Category.

Apart from empowering the workforce, Duterte-Carpio also boasted of her initiatives to power up the business sector citing Mag-Negosyo ‘Ta Day as one of the programs she pursued the first time she became mayor in 2010.

It provided Dabawenyas the means to become financially independent by giving them seed funding and entrepreneurial and livelihood skills training.

During the pandemic, it was expanded to include members of the LGBTQ+ Community in Davao through the Rainbow Magnegosyo ‘Ta Day Project.

"We improved our economic policies to encourage more businesses to come in. We amended the Davao City Investment Incentive Code to make incentive packages more attractive to both local and foreign investors. We enhanced our preferred investment areas and we are pushing for the establishment of more ecozones beyond our existing IT parks and IT centers, with focus on the agri-industrial and manufacturing zones," she said.

The services industry was the anchor for the city's economic growth in the past five years, and the opening of more business process outsourcing companies (BPOs) and tourism facilities like hotels, malls, and restaurants provided a source of income for thousands of Dabawenyos.

Per licenses issued, some 16,474 tourism front-liners were employed in 2019.

There was also an exponential growth in the real estate sector because of the investments pouring in from the services industry.

"Aside from the various housing projects of private companies, we also implemented resettlement programs to provide informal settlers better living conditions," she said.

From 2019 to 2021, a total of 968 family beneficiaries were relocated to the Los Amigos relocation site. Moreover, with the assistance of the City Planning and Development Office, some 8,012 individuals benefitted from the Community Mortgage Program of the Social Housing Finance Corporation.

"With this, Davao City has emerged as one of the best cities in the Philippines today. We achieved this by focusing our energies and resources on key areas that are integral to the growth of our city and the empowerment of the Dabawenyo. We directed our efforts to build more infrastructure, enhance our revenue generation efforts, strengthen our security, and improve the delivery of our social services, while also continuously learning, embarking on business and tourism missions, and forging partnerships with other Philippine cities and localities abroad," she added.

In December 2021, the National Competitiveness Council and the Department of Trade and Industry named Davao City the 4th Most Competitive Highly Urbanized City in the 2021 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) -- the highest ranking of any city outside of the National Capital Region. The city has remained on the Top Five list since 2015. (PNA)