A total of P154.6 billion and P7.6 billion proposed budget for 24 regional line agencies (RLAs) and 12 state universities and colleges (SUCs), respectively, was endorsed by the members of the Regional Development Council VI (RDC-VI) in the recently concluded RDC-VI First Quarter Regular Meeting for 2018 on March 23, 2018. The combined sum of the region’s request amount to P162.2 billion where 84 percent is under Tier 1 or on-going/regular programs and 16 percent is proposed under Tier 2 or new/expanded programs and projects.

The RDC-VI endorsement is actually a confirmation of resolutions passed by its expanded Executive Committee (ExCom) after the review of budget proposals held on March 13,14,15 and 20, 2018.  The ExCom’s task was to ensure that the budget proposals respond to the goals set in the Regional Development Plan and are also supportive of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 priorities anchored on President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s 0 plus 10 Agenda and the country’s commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Infrastructure Development Sector has the biggest budget request of around P86.3 billion in response to the “Build, Build, Build” program under the DPWH and NIA. It is followed by the Social Development Sector with P59.9 billion for banner programs on conditional cash transfer, education, health, and other social services. The Economic Development Sector has proposed P7.6 billion for various economic services covering agriculture, fishery, forestry, industry, trade, science & technology, tourism, and environment. The Development Administration Sector with P745.298 million will fund proposed programs, projects and activities related to good governance, security, peace and order.

Among the SUCs, the three biggest proposed budget came from West Visayas State University with around P1.6 billion followed by Capiz State University with P961 million and Iloilo Science and Technology University with P832 million.

In her message, RDC-VI Chairperson Rhodora J. Cadiao reminded the members  that while the council will push for a higher batting average of budget approvals the real challenge is in the speed and efficiency of spending the money allocated to the RLAs and SUCs. She said that per data of the Department of Budget and Management, many implementing departments in the region had an average utilization rate of between 35 to 60 percent. Adding that last year, many agencies returned unspent funds of 2016 while others continue to spend budget balances from 2017 until now. Governor Cadiao posed the challenge for better fund utilization in 2019 onwards because of the cash-based budgeting and limiting program/project implementation to one year.

During the RDC-VI First Quarter Regular Meeting the council also approved 21 sector and special committee resolutions including the following:

  • Request for Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to provide additional points, as incentive, in the ratings on the Seal of Good Local Governance awards of local government units that implements the Social Security System expanded self-employed program coverage;
  • Support to House Bill No. 5682 “An Act Making the Position of a Cooperatives Officer Mandatory in the Municipal, City and Provincial Levels, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 7160 of the Local Government Code of 1991.”;
  • Endorsement of the establishment of a sanitary landfill in Janiuay, Iloilo under Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ PSWMS to be financed by the Asian Development Bank;
  • Request for the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to provided annual allocation for the development/expansion of the Iloilo International Airport and Bacolod-Silay Airport starting with its CY 2019-infrastructure budget;
  • Request for DOTr to construct port facilities in the island barangays of Region VI to improve access and mobility of residents, visitors/tourists, goods and services from the mainland to the island and vice versa;
  • Request for DOTr to lead in the establishment of a Regional Vehicle Dismantling/Scrapping Centers for End-of-Life Moto Vehicle , including the formulation of a National Vehicle Scrappage Program;
  • Endorsement of the proposed Iloilo Fish Port Complex Project to be funded under PFDA’s National Fish Port Project 3;
  • Endorsing the proposed Port Zone Delineation of San Carlos Port in Negros Occidental;
  • Endorsing the crafting of the Western Visayas Regional Export Development Plan;
  • Enjoin all cities and municipalities to complete and adopt their Local Shelter Plans;
  • Request for the shelter agencies to require the LGUs to submit their approved LSPs prior to availing of projects and other assistance;
  • Endorsing the conduct of a regional level training of trainors to enhance the functionality of barangay violence against women (VAW) desks for possible funding by the DILG and the RDC;
  • Request for DILG to issue a memorandum requiring all barangays in Region VI to attend a training on VAW desk functionality chargeable against the GAD funds;
  • Requesting the DOTr to provide technical support to LGUs in Western Visayas in the preparation of a local public transport route plan and local transport plan as well as in the evaluation of traffic impact assessment report submitted to highly urbanized cities and urbanizing cities and municipalities;
  • Request for all provinces to complete the required outputs under the Coordinating Roads and Infrastructure Investment for Development Program to be used as inputs in the preparation of the local road network development plans; and
  • Request for DENR, EMB, DOE, DOST, and DOH to jointly issue a national guideline on the safe and beneficial use of coal ash and protocols for its hauling outside coal-fired power plants for use as site development material and for other purposes;

The RDC-VI also discussed the issues besetting Boracay Island with updates from DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco V. Densing III – focal person of the Presidential Task Force on Boracay, sharing the national perspective, DENR-VI Regional Director Jim O. Sampulna giving the regional perspective, and Aklan Governor Florencio T. Miraflores providing the local perspective and initiatives. (NEDA)