Honorable Richard Gomez, Mayor of Ormoc City, in his welcome message, recognized that it was a historic day for the country to conduct in recent years the first joint meeting of the three (3) regional councils, i.e. the Regional Development Council (RDC), the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), and the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), on 03 December 2018. Mayor Gomez further acknowledged that it was an honor for Ormoc City to host the said meeting. In his message, Mayor Gomez specifically thanked Atty. Bonifacio G. Uy, Regional Director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) VIII for spearheading the conduct of the meeting following the suggestion of National Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana.

Honorable Cristina Gonzalez-Romualdez, Chairperson of the RDC VIII and Mayor of Tacloban City, in her opening message, emphasized that a close coordination among the three most significant councils is a must if we are to realize our development plan in the region because development depends on the interplay of all sectors of the society. Moreover, she highlighted that peace and order, and resilience, are among the foundations upon which the attainment of our desired development, the AmBisyon Natin 2040, will depend on.

Honorable Sharee Ann Tan – De los Santos, Chairperson of the RPOC-Eastern Visayas and Governor of Samar, in her opening message, confirmed that the three councils are the main vehicles in attaining progress and development in Eastern Visayas. She hoped that the collaboration of the three councils will pave way for coherence in the national line agencies to avoid delay, duplication, and waste of government resources.

Director Henry Anthony Torres, Chairperson of RDRRMC VIII and Regional Director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) VIII, in his opening message, further emphasized the need for collaboration, especially among the local government units (LGUs), in achieving resilience of communities.

Undersecretary Bernardo C. Florece, Jr., Undersecretary for Peace and Order of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), underscored that there can be no development without peace and order and resilience. Hence, he called for stronger collaboration among the three councils and that agencies must not rely solely on their own resources and capabilities for the problems we face transcend political agency and even geographical boundaries. Moreover, he asserted that all agencies must ensure that their efforts are truly aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022.

The three regional bodies discussed and resolved various inter-sectoral concerns in the region. Among the resolutions passed during the joint meeting were: (a) Supporting and Endorsing the Establishment of the Department of Disaster Resilience Bill; (b) Endorsing to the Offices of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the Department of National Defense (DND), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) RDC VIII Res. No. 80, s. 2018, “Requesting OPAPP, DND, and DPWH to Expedite Execution of an Agreement for the Engineering Brigade of the Philippine Army to Formally Take Over the Implementation of Unimplemented and Terminated PAMANA Projects;” and (c) Endorsing RDC VIII Res. No. 48, s. 2018, entitled “Requesting the Office of the President, Through the Office of the Presidential Assistant For Special Concerns, to Facilitate the Reallocation of the Yolanda Funds Reverted to the National Treasury.” The three councils also approved and endorsed the FY 2020 Proposed Priority Programs and Projects of Eastern Visayas agency regional offices and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), as well as the 2019 RDC VIII Work and Financial Plan.

The DND and the 53rd Engineer Brigade of the Philippine Army expressed their willingness to assume the implementation of the five (5) unimplemented PAMANA road projects in Samar Island.

The joint meeting was graced with the presence of Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, the Chairperson of the NDRRMC and Secretary of National Defense, who specifically congratulated NEDA VIII and the representatives of the RDC VIII, RPOC-EV and RDRRMC VIII for convening the first ever joint meeting of the three regional bodies.

Article by Linnito M. Pascual; Photo by Judith Maris Torres-Guzman