The Regional Development Council (RDC) VI-Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) convened for its annual meeting last September 3 via Zoom.  The RAC is composed of the RDC VI Executive Committee members and the Congressional Representatives of Western Visayas.  During the meeting, the RAC adopted the FY 2022 Annual Investment Program of Western Visayas.  The body also discussed pressing concerns on the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly vaccination and economic recovery, as well as specific district issues raised by some of the congresspersons that need action by concerned government agencies.

Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda of the Lone District of Antique and Congressman Francisco “Kiko” Benitez of the 3rd District of Negros Occidental were this year’s Lead Convenors.  They ensured the personal participation of 12 out of 21 congressional representatives.  All in all, 98 participants joined the meeting.  Also in attendance were representatives of agency central offices, and other regional line agencies

Assistant Secretary Greg L. Pineda of the NEDA-Regional Development Group presented updates on COVID-19 National Economic Recovery Efforts.  He mentioned that accelerated vaccination of all adult Filipinos, better management of risks in the safe opening of the economy, reprioritization of the budget for the most important programs, and timely use of the budget for recovery program are important in the economic recovery.

NEDA VI OIC-Regional Director Meylene C. Rosales presented the Regional Socio-Economic Situationer, highlighting that Western Visayas had the highest annual growth of agricultural production from 2019 to 2020 among other regions. She said this is a welcome development amid the 9.7 percent contraction of the regional economy due to the pandemic.

Dr. Ma. Sophia S. Pulmones, Chief of the Local Health Support Division, Department of Health (DOH) VI reported on the COVID-19 Situation and Vaccination Activities in Western Visayas. DOH VI recommended to increase health care capacity, enhance genomic bio-surveillance, and strengthen implementation of the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) of the LGUs.

The FY 2022 Western Visayas Annual Investment Program was presented by Engr. Melvin V. Madriguera, OIC-Chief of NEDA VI Project Development, Investment Programming and Budget Division. He enumerated the priority programs and projects of each of the 19 Congressional Districts. A resolution was passed adopting the FY 2022 Western Visayas Annual Investment Program.

Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda of the Lone District of Antique recommended that the budget of agencies providing soft projects which target Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), vulnerable, and marginalized sectors, be increased. Being this year’s RAC Lead Convenor, DS Legarda emphasized that soft projects have been most helpful to the poorest of the poor in this pandemic.

OIC-Assistant Regional Director Maria Liane L. Gayomali of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Mr. Christian M. Nagaynay of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) presented updates on the implementation of Executive Order 138, s. 2021, providing for the FULL DEVOLUTION OF CERTAIN FUNCTIONS OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.  The creation of the Regional Committee on Devolution (ComDev) was approved by the RDC VI during its Second Quarter Full Council meeting on August 9, 2021. The roll-out and preparation of the LGUS’ Devolution Transition Plans (DTPs) are currently ongoing.

The RAC was created under EO 325 to allow members of the House of Representatives of the region to interact with the members of the RDC Executive Committee.  Its main function is to advise, assist and support the Council in discharging its functions. This meeting was an occasion for the congressional representatives to raise issues and concerns that are affecting their respective districts.

Development issues and concerns of each of the Congressional Districts and Party Lists were discussed vis-à-vis responses from the concerned ACO/ARO representatives.   This session aims to serve as a forum for understanding the socio-economic concerns of the districts.  NEDA VI Assistant Regional Director Arecio A, Casing, Jr. presented the summary of agreements and the next steps.

RDC VI Chairperson Rhodora J. Cadiao expressed her thanks to all the participants and stressed that despite the constraints of the pandemic, the RAC was successfully convened.  She noted how committed the legislators are to progress of their respective districts and the development of Region VI as a whole. /VMHermanos/RDC VI