The National Economic and Development Authority Region VI (NEDA-VI) conducted a series of virtual focus group discussions on the draft COVID-19 Regional Recovery Program (RRP) of Western Visayas from May 26 to 28, 2020 taking off from the initial draft formulated from submissions of regional line agencies, local government units, government corporations, financial institutions, and state universities and colleges.

The online FGDs were conducted to solicit comments and suggestions to improve the strategies, legislative agenda, programs and projects of the draft RRP.  The three-day activity involved presentations and discussions as Region VI transitions to the new normal.

A total of 75 participants attended the three-day virtual consultations composed of regional directors and RRP focal persons of regional agencies, provincial and city planning and development coordinators, presidents of the state universities and colleges, disaster risk reduction and management officers and private sector representatives (PSRs) of RDC-VI.

In her opening message, NEDA-VI Regional Director Ro-Ann Bacal stressed the importance of crafting a recovery plan that will guide the region as it gradually transitions from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic to recovery under new normal conditions.  She called upon the participants to scrutinize the document and suggest new ideas, especially in ensuring the effective delivery of government services and supporting the gradual opening of the region’s economy that will entice consumers to start spending and demanding for the region’s goods and services.

Aside from discussing about the RRP strategies, the consultations also served as a venue for vetting proposed priority PPAs listed in the investment program to ensure that these will truly achieve the objectives and targets identified in the health, economic, social, infrastructure, and governance thematic sectors.

Director Bacal also rallied the participants to adopt a whole-of- government approach to prepare the region for the likely influx of people as the government implements the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BPBP) program pursuant to Executive Order 114.  She clarified that the intended beneficiaries of the BPBP program include families belonging to the informal sector in the National Capital Region, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, who intend to go back to their provinces for good.

The RRP aims to build the resilience of Western Visayas in times of medical emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic and enable the region to achieve its development goals and targets towards a progressive, secure, healthy and happy people.  /PFPD, NEDA-VI