Kaantabay sa Kauswagan, or as it is also known, Partners in Development is a good example of how an
almost decadent city as Naga was, turned around to its own improvement and
upgrading. It faced different challenges which can be divided into three categories,
which are economic, social and political issues. It is, therefore, a
comprehensive and global program that goes further than just urban
regeneration.  

The situation of Naga city prior to the creation of the
program was quite worrying. As it is said above, the new government with Jesse
Robredo as mayor had to face issues of different nature, which are characteristic
of any city in the Philippines that had rapidly been urbanized. The main
economic problem was the shift in the image Naga was offering to the rest of
the country, as it was no longer the centre of trade and finances as it used to
be, which caused many potential investors to leave the city. That was also
related to the indifference towards business and the lack of stakeholdership
among the sectors in Naga’s society. The social issues were the lack of basic
services, the increase of crime and homeless population due to land tenure
problems and evictions or demolitions, among others. All these had led to the
loss of confidence of Naga’s inhabitants in their local government. Previous
governments could be blamed for this, especially because of their indifference
towards the bad situation of the urban poor. Another key issue the new
government encountered was the old political system, based on patronage from
some wealthy families. In facing these challenges, Robredo and his team had
three main goals in mind: normalization and regulation, related to the land
tenure problems; reduction of poverty by socioeconomically empowering the poor;
and urban upgrading, by basically improving the different communities’
facilities.

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All these goals were to be reached by setting short
and long-term objectives since the program could not change the situation
overnight. One of the most important ones was making the urban poor community productive
members of the city’s society and also part of the local government. 

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