DUMAGUETE City is setting its sights on the development of a 174-hectare, P23-billion township, with the aim of transforming it into a new economic and tourism hub in central Philippines.

Dubbed "Smart City," the project is an unsolicited public-private partnership proposal by EM Cuerpo Inc. (EMCI) which is expected to be completed within five years.

Artist's perspective of Dumaguete Smart City.
Artist's perspective of Dumaguete Smart City.

"The Smart City will transform Dumaguete into a highly-urbanized city with a mixed-use central business district equipped with earth-friendly building systems, green energy sources, and modern information technologies. It will also house public facilities for health, housing, education, sports, and transportation," said Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo.

Remollo said that the project will be developed at no cost to the city government, and will be a legacy project, which will provide additional revenues for better delivery of public services and infrastructure.

This world-class proposal will have a 5G-ready underground cable network for ICT locators, business process outsourcing (BPO), mixed-use medium-rise buildings, and wellness facilities and geriatric health care for retirees, among others.

It is also as envisioned to house renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.

Composed of two horizontal man-made islands 30 meters offshore, the smart city will be reclaimed on the flanks of the scenic bayside road to avoid obstructing the panoramic view the city is known for.

At its core will be two wastewater treatment facilities with a sewage treatment plant and a diversion piping system to filter water before being discharged to the bay.

The local chief executive said that the project will create tens of thousands of jobs for skilled workers which can help soften the impact of job losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The project was proposed in 2019 by EM Cuerpo Inc., holder of an "AAAA" Contractor License from the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board, and has undertaken various government and private infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, sectoral groups have expressed their support to the proposed development after a series of discussions with the mayor and local officials.

The groups include BPO workers, local entrepreneurs, religious leaders from evangelical churches and Muslim groups, academic community, fisherfolk, informal sector workers, coastal barangay residents, and senior citizens.

The groups' leaders said the planned development will create tens of thousands of jobs and income opportunities in the city and neighboring towns in Negros Oriental, Cebu, Siquijor and northern Mindanao, and help sustain the peace and order and economic stability in the region.

Remollo concluded that once given the go signal to proceed by national government agencies, the project will adopt a "avoid, integrate, replace" framework to minimize its impact on the marine ecosystem, and use new modern earth-friendly technologies to ensure its long-term sustainability.