The NEDA Board-Regional Development Committee (NB-RDCom) Visayas Area Committee (VAC) convened for its Reorganizational Meeting on 7 June 2023 at Pin Wei Function Room, Seda Vertis North, Quezon City.  The Committee unanimously selected RDC VI Chair, Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo B. Benitez as the NB-RDCom VAC Chair for the term 2023-2025. Also, RDC VII Chair, Bohol Governor Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado, and RDC VIII Chair, Ormoc City Mayor Lucy Marie Torres-Gomez, were selected as Co-chairs. Consequently, they will serve as the principal and alternate representatives to the NB-RDCom Mother Committee for a term coinciding with their term as RDC Chairperson.

The new officials took their oath of office before Congressman Richard I. Gomez. Prior to this, the Committee was oriented on the NB-RDCom.  They were also briefed on the selection process by the outgoing NB-RDCom VAC Head of Secretariat and NEDA VIII Regional Director Meylene C. Rosales.

Also present during the meeting were the RDC Co-chairs, Vice-Chairs and Secretaries of the Visayas regions. NEDA-Regional Development Group Assistant Secretary Greg L. Pineda, Presidential Management Staff Undersecretary Mark Cristeo R. Gimenez, and the representative of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Undersecretary Terence Calatrava likewise attended as guests.

In her opening message, Mayor Torres-Gomez cited that while the National Capital Region (NCR) and Luzon still make up the bulk of the national Gross Domestic Product, countryside development is evident, with 10 of the 17 regions recording growth rates higher than that of the NCR. She highlighted that the Visayas competes as the Philippines’ most vibrant geographic regional economy despite being the smallest island group. She encouraged the Committee to choose leaders that would drive the economic growth momentum of the island group to its fullest potential.

Governor Aumentado called for enhanced cooperation among the Visayas regions while implementing their Regional Development Plans. He aspires that the Visayas Area Committee will continue to address rising poverty incidence and disaster risk and vulnerability, achieve regional equity by boosting countryside development, and further improve the lives of its people, especially the poor and marginalized families.

Meanwhile, the newly selected RDCom-VAC Chair, Mayor Benitez, urged the Visayas RDCs to move forward with a spirit of unity, collaboration, and resolve in achieving regional development, particularly in the formulation, implementation, and monitoring of policies that will reduce regional growth disparities and promote rational allocation of resources.

The Committee also agreed on the schedule and hosting of meetings for the remaining quarters of the year. Lastly, incoming NB-RDCom VAC Head of Secretariat and NEDA VI Regional Director Arecio A. Casing, Jr. discussed the crafting of a proposed One Visayas Vision – the development path of the Visayas regions towards undivided, seamless, and interconnected progress.

Executive Order (EO) No. 257, Series of 2003 created the RDCom under the NEDA Board to coordinate and integrate regional development efforts of the government to ensure harmony and effective implementation at the regional and local levels. Pursuant to the said EO, NB-RDCom Area Committees were established for each of the major island groups to assist the NB-RDCom Mother Committee in the discharge of its functions. The NB-RDCom VAC comprises the Chairpersons, Co-Chairpersons, and Vice-Chairpersons of the Regional Development Councils (RDCs) of Western, Central, and Eastern Visayas regions.

Article and Photos by: Lady Jane A. Fermano