The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Western Visayas has approved the funding and implementation of the long awaited Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge Project during the Council’s third quarter meeting on October 13, 2022 at the L’Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City.

The 32.47 km PGN Island Bridges Project with a total cost of  PhP 187.53 billion is targeted to be completed in 2030.  The project is classified as a rural expressway with two sea-crossing bridges, connecting roads and interchanges that will connect the three main islands of the region.

Other projects that the RDC approved for funding and implementation are the proposed rehabilitation and concreting of road sections leading to Agri-Ecotourism Sites in the Second District of Iloilo and the Farm-To-Market Road Projects in Sara, Iloilo.

In the same meeting, the Council supported the “Buy Local, Go Lokal,” advocacy of the Department of Trade and Industry. The campaign aims to promote support for local and small businesses, stimulate demand for homegrown products, save local jobs, and jumpstart the local economy from the continuing adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RDC also promoted the inclusion of several eco-tourism sites in Panay Island as new tourism destination areas under the Western Visayas Ecotourism Circuit. These are the Kalibo Bakhawan Ecopark in Aklan, Sibalom Natural Park and Mararison Island in Antique, the Taklong Island in Guimaras, and the Bulabog Putian National Park and the Bucari Pine Forest in Iloilo.

The adoption of the Regional Development Plan Assessment Report for 2019-2022 was also approved by the RDC. The Assessment Report provides a thorough analysis of the region’s performance and contains policy recommendations to sustain accomplishments, and to address gaps and missed targets.

OIC-Regional Director Arecio A. Casing of NEDA Region VI, chaired the meeting and delivered the State of the Region Address that outlined the region’s performance as the economy reopened after the COVID-19 lockdowns.

NEDA Undersecretary Carlos Bernardo O. Abad Santos also gave his video message and commended the Council for fast-tracking the election of Private Sector Representatives and the nomination of RDC VI Officials. He cited the RDC as NEDA’s partners in spreading development throughout the region and the country.

The CY 2022 third quarter Regional Development Council Meeting was hosted by Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez of Bacolod City, and is the first face-to-face meeting after the reorganization last August 18, 2022. Mayor Albee graciously welcomed the members of the Council and invited them to celebrate with Bacolod the grandest and most ambitious Masskara Festival happening in the City. (CPGaitana/NEDA 6)