STATE OF THE REGION ADDRESS
CY 2023 Second Quarter Regular Regional Development Council VI Meeting
28 June 2023
Courtyard by Marriott, Iloilo City
Hon. Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” B. Benitez, Chairperson, RDC-Region VI
and Mayor, Bacolod City
Maayong aga fellow officers and members of the Regional Development Council VI, our guests, ladies and gentlemen.
The year 2022 has been a challenging year as we bring normalcy back to the region, even with the risks of COVID-19 hovering us and new challenges facing us especially those brought by external forces, particularly the aggressive rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve and the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Nevertheless, 2022 ended with the economy of Western Visayas posting an economic growth of 9.3 percent in 2022, valued at PHP955 billion at constant 2018 prices. It merely missed the trillion-peso mark by a small fraction. This augurs well for 2023 as the target of PHP986.75 billion appears achievable. Kudos to the efforts of our governors, mayors, regional line agencies.
That 9.3 percent growth, registered the highest economic growth rate among all regions, exceeding the national average of 7.2 percent. As in the past, services contributed the highest at 7.7 percent, valued at PHP582.6 billion and 2.0 percent from industry worth PHP205.1 billion. The agriculture, forestry and fishing which registered a contraction of -0.4 percent, contributed PHP167.3 million.
The growth rates of expenditure items showed that imports of goods and services from the rest of the world grew the fastest with 50.8 percent, followed by exports of goods and services to the rest of the world with only 22.9 percent growth. Western Visayas’ household spending accelerated to 12.2 percent, an improvement from the 7.4 percent growth in 2011.
The region’s average inflation rate in 2022 posted at 6.6 percent. The region experienced continued monthly rise of inflation from 3.3 percent to its highest inflation in December at 10.5 percent, the highest among the regions and the highest since November 2008. From May to December 2022, the prices of basic goods in Western Visayas have been higher than the national average. This was primarily caused by the faster year-on-year growth rate in the index of food and non-alcoholic beverages at 7.6 percent from 2.5 percent in 2021. The uptrend in food inflation was influenced mainly by higher annual growth rate in the food sub-groups of sugar, confectionery and desserts at 44.2 percent; vegetables, tubers, plantains and cooking bananas at 24.1 percent; and, milk, other dairy products and eggs at 9.6 percent.
The reopening of economies and recovering global demand created upside pressure on inflation. At the same time geopolitical tensions, supply chain bottlenecks from production restrictions, weather externalities, lower local food production due to the reduction of supplies owing to African swine fever and avian influenza, and spillover of high energy prices on utilities and transportation pushed up freight and food prices.
With increased inflation rates, the reduction in people’s real income or purchasing power continued to weaken from PHP0.92 in 2021 to PHP0.82 in 2022, as more expensive food and fuel caused inflation to accelerate. And, the US dollar exchange was PHP55.68 in 2022 compared to PHP50.25 in 2021.
Despite that, the region yielded higher revenues for 2022 at PHP23,315 billion, which is 24.7 percent or PHP4,623.05 billion higher than revenues in 2021. Negros Occidental and Iloilo remained as top income earners. These were attributable to increased economic activities as the region recovers from the pandemic such as resumption of flights and restaurant operations and the opening of sites and accommodations for local and international tourists which ushered in employment opportunities. Continued remittances from abroad and government infrastructure projects also helped jumpstart the economy.
All provinces relied highly on funds from the national government with internal revenue allotment dependency ratio ranging from 72 to 93 percent with Negros Occidental being the highest.
Negros Occidental and Iloilo had highest expenditures in 2022, with payouts mostly appropriated for social protection programs to respond to calamities, capital outlay for infrastructure projects, year-end bonuses and cash gifts to government employees.
The labor force participation showed an increase of 2.23 percent compared to 2021, which translated to an increase of 3.56 million of those aged 15 years old and over.
Employment rate increased by 1.30 percentage points or from 94.2 percent in 2021 to 94.9 percent in 2022. Unemployment rate estimated at 5.1 percent in 2022 was lower than 5.8 percent recorded in 2021. And, underemployment also reduced from 17.5 percent in 2021 to 15.3 percent in 2022.
DOLE continues to implement community-based programs to provide temporary employment to workers or those from the informal sector who are either unemployed, self-employed or displaced whose earnings were affected due to pandemic. In 2022, there were 273,863 workers that benefitted from DOLE programs such as CAMP, TUPAD BKBK, TUPAD Bayanihan 2.
A total of 1,043 employees were laid off in 2022 as some establishments continued to suffer negative margins and losses brought about by the pandemic, resignation and termination due to just causes and change in management or merger.
Some companies continued their operations despite losses which resulted to fewer shutdowns from 113 in 2021 to 84 in 2022. Twenty-five percent of these establishments were from the wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycle industries.
Securities and Exchange Commission showed a significant increase in the number of stock and non-stock firms registered in 2022. The total paid-up capital increased by 26 percent for stock corporations and 1.29 percent for non-stock corporations. The top 10 registered business enterprises in terms of paid-up capital includes corporations engaged in building construction, gambling and betting activities, support activities to agriculture and post-harvest crop activities and retail sale, among others.
Agriculture fared well in the first three quarters of 2022. However, with Severe Tropical Storm Paeng hitting the region by the fourth quarter, it caused agricultural damage and elevated input costs such as fertilizer and fuel. Palay production slightly decreased by 1.5 percent, from 2.357 million metric tons in 2021 to 2.321 million in 2022. Similarly corn production decreased by 1.98 percent.
Livestock and poultry production posted minimal growth except for carabao and goat. In fact, in the third quarter of 2022, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that Western Visayas was the major contributor in carabao production with a 13.4 percent share.
The NEDA continues to rally its support to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement that will enhance market access for critical agri-based exports. Partner countries will also agree to lower tariff rates on Philippine exports once ratified.
According to the Department of Agriculture, the negative decline of (29.13) percent in the aquaculture sector largely contributed to the overall decrease in the economic performance of the sector. STS Paeng damaged 52.36 percent of total fisheries holdings in Western Visayas. The total fisheries production decreased by 11.13 percent from 376,780 metric tons in 2021 to 334,846 metric tons in 2022. Inland fisheries production also decreased by 43.30 percent. Seaweed farmers and fishponds were affected as well. It was only the marine municipal and commercial fisheries that increased by 7.83 percent and 23.26 percent, respectively.
The resumption of tourism activities contributed to the positive performance of the sector. There were 3.095 million tourists that visited the region in 2022, dominated by 2.89 million domestic tourists, followed by foreign tourists at 166,540. As reported by DOT, at least 1.75 million people visited Boracay in 2022 followed by Bacolod City with 547,483. South Korea was the biggest market of international tourists with 52,341 travelers followed by USA with 27,691 travelers. Tourist receipts posted at PHP39.04 billion, an increase of 273.59 percent from the PHP10.45 billion in 2021.
Domestic and Foreign Trade
In 2022, the region’s total external trade in goods reached USD738.92 million, expanding by 31.18 percent from USD 563.30 million in 2021. The bulk of exports were reported in the Port of Iloilo owing to the increased value per metric ton of coal. The declining Philippine raw cane sugar exportation accounted for the 96 percent decrease in the value of exports in the Port of Pulupandan.
Total imports went up by almost 80 percent, from PHP30.49 billion in 2021 to PHP54.52 billion in 2022. The volume and value of gasoil, coal, cement and fertilizer in the Port of Iloilo and the importation of palm olein, fertilizer, rice and cement in the Port of Pulupandan were reasons for this increase.
Information and Communications Technology
The Department of Information and Communications Technology activated free wi-fi sites with 589 hotspots across the region. Most of these hotspots are in Iloilo and Negros Occidental. The DICT continues to conduct trainings on Internal Media and Information Literacy, Digital Literacy, Site Coordinator, webinars, government website template.
As schools continue to fully open amidst the pandemic, the net enrolment rates (NER) remain a challenge in 2022. On average the NER for elementary and secondary education minimally improved by 0.11 percent and 3.93 percent, respectively. The Department of Education continues to respond to these concerns through Oplan Balik Eskwela, Brigada Eskwela, feeding programs, more integrated schools, technical-vocational-livelihood tracks, farm schools in rural areas to accommodate learners, and delivery of different learning modalities.
An overall improvement was seen in the Human Resource for Health to population ratio for 2022. The total number of medical personnel posted an increase of 4.57 percent or 34,161 in 2022 compared to 32,668 in 2021. The biggest improvement was seen in the number of nurses deployed at 22.45 percent, physicians at 18.48 percent and nutritionists at 17.65 percent. This was credited to the augmentation deployment of health resources for health under the DOH’s National Health Workforce Support System.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, nutrition indicators showed that all six provinces and two highly urbanized cities performed well in decreasing the incidence of stunting and wasting among pre-school children in the region. The improvements in both the prevalence of stunting and wasting in pre-school children were attributed to nutrition programs such as Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ny Magnanay Act, implementation of Tutok Kainan Dietary supplementation Program in the LGUs, among others. However, municipalities with the highest prevalence of stunting was Carles in Iloilo and Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental; the highest prevalence of wasting in 2022 was Batan in Aklan, followed by Pilar in Capiz.
Regional Development Committee
The RDC VI was successfully reorganized on August 18, 2022, with new set of officers taking their oath of office.
RDC VI initiated the conduct of Renewable Energy Summit entitled “RDC VI for RE 2022 and Beyond: Empowering LGUs to Harness Renewable Energy Resources and Solutions for Recovery and Growth” on April 7-8, 2022, in partnership with the Department of Energy, Global Environment Facility, UNDP-Development for Renewable Energy Applications Mainstreaming and Market Sustainability (DREAMS) Project, and, Department of Interior and Local Government.
Orientation series on RDC-NEDA VI and its functions kicked off in the Province of Capiz and Aklan on September 15 and 16, followed by Iloilo Province and Iloilo City on September 22 and Bacolod City on December 6. This activity is conducted at the start of every new Presidential term.
In response to the region’s sectoral concerns, the RDC VI passed 80 resolutions, that included the endorsement of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridges Project.
Madamo nga salamat.