MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the creation of a "back-up government center" outside the Philippine capital to prepare for potential disasters and attract investments in the countryside.
Duterte, in Executive Order No. 119, mandated the establishment of an administrative center in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, and ordered government agencies to set up satellite offices there.
The current seat of the national government in Metro Manila is vulnerable to gradual or sudden ground sinking, rising sea levels and increased risk of floods. It is also exposed to the threat of a "catastrophic" earthquake that the West and East Valley Zones might spawn, said the President.
A government center outside the capital would "serve as a back-up administrative hub and which may be used as a disaster recovery center, to ensure continuity of government services," read Duterte's order.
The New Clark City government center also addresses "the lack of sustainable employment opportunities in the countryside, unbalanced regional development, and unequal distribution of wealth" through the development of new townships and business districts, the President said.
The New Clark City, around 2 hours from Manila, was the venue of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, with new infrastructure built for the purpose.
Duterte, the first President from Mindanao, had said he would shift government power away from "Imperial Manila" in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
He also called for a shift of the system of governance from unitary to federal saying this would spur countryside development, but the move has not prospered.
Duterte has held official functions in his hometown Davao City, including entertaining former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his home.
He was also in Davao City when Super Typhoon Rolly was wreaking havoc in Luzon at the start of the month, failing to attend a Cabinet briefing.