The second half of 2020 proved productive for NEDA VIII based on the evaluation during the NRO VIII CY 2020 Performance Assessment and CY 2021 Planning Conference conducted on 11-12 January 2021 via Zoom.

Despite the pandemic, the second semester saw the office catch-up on many of its targets for the year including the conduct of quarterly Regional Development Council (RDC) VIII Full Council, Sectoral Committee, and Affiliate Committee meetings; plus a whole host of activities related to COVID-19 such as the formulation of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Action Plan; and packaging of the Eastern Visayas COVID-19 Regional Recovery Program.

The second semester also saw the office finally hit its stride in conducting online meetings as many activities shifted completely online such as the RDC Week Celebrations and the conduct of the Economic and Financial Learning Week Forum were conducted via Zoom and livestreamed on Facebook, reaching new heights of participation and viewership.

The adoption of new technologies, especially social media and telecommuting tools such as Zoom and Google Meet, allowed NEDA VIII to expand its reach and allow stakeholders to access its services from afar.

A lot of work still remains for 2021, however.

In his opening message, NEDA VIII Regional Director Bonifacio G. Uy highlighted the need to enhance the office’s focus on Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) related projects and continue its support for BP2.

Aside from these, the Office-identified targets for 2021 include routine activities such as RDC meetings, monitoring activities, and participation in new government programs geared towards overcoming the effects in the economy brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two-day event also provided NEDA staff an opportunity to recognize bottlenecks and suggest solutions to address them, especially as the office adapts alternative ways of working due to the pandemic. Included is the upgrading of the office’s digital infrastructure and acquisition of necessary tools, such as laptops and video cameras, to improve its ability to host and attend virtual meetings despite the many challenges posed by COVID-19.

Late last year, the office completely shifted to virtual meetings to allow stakeholders to participate in the meeting while ensuring that safety measures are observed.

Article and Photos by:  Knulp Aseo and Chenee C. Magallon