Congresspersons from Eastern Visayas band together to support the inclusion of the region’s priority programs and projects (PAPs) for FY 2024 and beyond in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) during the Regional Development Council (RDC) VIII-Advisory Committee (AdCom) meeting on 24 May 2023 at the Batasan Pambansa, Quezon City.

For FY 2024, Eastern Visayas proposed PhP217.9 billion-worth of PAPs, with the vast majority earmarked to improve the region’s infrastructure and utilities. Of the proposed budget, more than half will directly benefit communities in geographically isolated and disadvantaged and conflict-affected areas (GIDCAs), as well as marginalized sectors, such as women and the youth, through social infrastructure projects like schools and hospitals.

“I would like to emphasize that FY 2024 PAPs are crucial to support the 2nd year of implementation of the Eastern Visayas RDP 2023-2028 presented earlier… All FY 2024 PAPs support the three main strategies identified in our RDP to promote regional development,” said RDC VIII Co-Chairperson and Private Sector Representative for Persons with Special Concerns Leo Christian V. Lauzon.

Support of the region’s congresspersons is crucial as NEDA reported that in the past five years, only

20.5 percent of the budget proposed by the region and endorsed by the RDC VIII, was included in the GAA annually.

RDC VIII Chairperson and Ormoc City Mayor Lucy Marie Torres-Gomez encouraged congresspersons to do more. She said, “Let us remember that we are not only deciding for ourselves, for this year, not even for the next two more years. We are deciding on projects that could lead to the success of future generations. Conversely, let us also consider the scenario of how much a project’s absence in the future would incapacitate the same future generation.”

Moving forward, the AdCom agreed to create a focal point system between Congress and the RDC VIII Secretariat to facilitate budget coordination, especially with the start of the budget deliberations in the House of Representatives.

Article and Photos by: Knulp Aseo, DRD