CEBU  CITY — Here’s a good news that makes Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and the Cebuanos proud of their province.

For the sixth consecutive year, Cebu has emerged as the richest province in the country based on the 2019 Annual Financial Report for 2019 of the Commission on Audit (COA).

The COA Report on local government units (LGUs) showed that Cebu has assets totalling P203.9 billion as of 2019.

Cebu’s 2019 record was surprising 471.9 percent higher compared to the province’s assets in 2018 worth only P35.65 billion.

Batangas, a top tourist, agro and industrial center in Luzon, ranked second to Cebu with P20.79 billion worth of assets.

Rizal also in Luzon, once the country’s premier province until 16 of its cities and towns like Makati, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Paranaque and Las Pinas, were integrated with a new political unit called Metro Manila during the Marcos era,  with P20.28 billion in assets.

Fourth in the COA list is Davao de Oro, formerly the Compostela Valley province which is known for rice, coconut, cacao, coffee, papaya, mango, pineapple, durian and banana and gold and minerals, with P20.10 billion.

Bukidnon, dubbed the highland paradise and food basket in the heartland of Mindanao, the home of Del Monte and Dole, the Philippine eagle and rafflesia, the world’s largest flower, among others is fifth with P18.29 billion in assets.

Other provinces in the top 10 list are Surigao del Norte (6th) with P16.68 billion; Negros Occidental (7th) with P15.90 billion; Leyte (8th) with P13.54 billion; Palawan (9th) with P13.04 billion and Iloilo (10th) with P13.03 billion.

Comebacking Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia attributed Cebu’s big jump in assets to the reappraisal of the value of Province-owned real estate properties.

“When I took over on July 1, I asked the Provincial Assessor’s Office to reassess all of our properties in accordance with the present value. The last time we reappraised our properties was in 2008. We have a lot of real estate properties in Cebu City where their value has quadrupled over the years,” Garcia disclosed.

Garcia was quoted in published reports as saying around P196 billion worth of assets are Province-owned real estate properties while P7.7 billion are in cash.

“Well, it’s a nice title, but that’s as far as it goes unless the people really feel the impact of being the richest province in the country. So, for me, I will not bask in that glory because it presents an even heavier challenge to make each and every Cebuano realize that their lives are better because Cebu is rich,” Garcia said.

Garcia said the challenge would be to accomplish much, especially in infrastructure, and in spurring economic activity that has been devastated by the Covid-19. (with Jeanne Michael Penaranda)