On April 13, 2018, Mr. Ben Esguerra, 2nd Secretary of the Embassy of Australia and Ms. Jore-Annie Rico, Australian Embassy Research Officer visited NEDA Region 6 to learn more about the development directions and about the priorities of Western Visayas.

RD Ro-Ann A. Bacal, OIC-ARD Gilberto A. Altura and the division chiefs welcomed Mr. Esguerra and RD Bacal gave a briefing on the Regional Development Plan, as well as, the overall socio-economic situation of the region.  She highlighted the major infrastructure projects that will have a major impact not only in the region but the Visayas area, as well.

Mr. Esguerra, while conveying how impressed he was about the growth and progress of Iloilo City,  inquired what factors may hinder the achievement of the PDP and the RDP.  OIC-ARD Altura replied that the funding of priority programs and projects is crucial, given that the priority projects, including those listed in the Regional Development Investment Program depends largely on the decisions of national government.

The strategic location and connectivity of Western Visayas to neighboring islands in Luzon and the Visayas will assure the sustained access to markets of its products in other parts of the country, at the same time provide a reliable route of visitors to tourism attractions in Panay, Guimaras, and Negros Occidental. The region’s integration in the Philippine Nautical Highway System gives a competitive advantage in terms of commerce, trade and human mobility.

When asked about the assurance that the other agencies and LGUs will support the RDP, RD Bacal shared that the Department of Interior and Local Government requires all local plans to be aligned with the RDP and the PDP.  Also, the NEDA 6 will soon embark on an advocacy roadshow to all provinces in Western Visayas where the support of LGUs, NGOs, the private sector, and civil society will be enlisted to support and contribute to the achievement of regional and national development goals and targets.

Mr. Esguerra, in his final message, thanked the NRO-6 for the very warm and informative meeting.  He invited the staff to avail of scholarships in Australia. (DRD)