NEDA VIII raised the possibility of future support by the Japanese government to the priority programs and projects of Eastern Visayas during the courtesy call of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on 16 December 2022, at the NEDA Regional VIII Office, Government Center, Palo, Leyte.

The JICA team, headed by Senior Representative Kuronoma Kenji, emphasized that the organization is highly enthusiastic about supporting the priority programs of Eastern Visayas through the provision of both technical and financial support, where needed.

NEDA VIII, led by Regional Director Meylene C. Rosales, thanked the agency for prioritizing the region. She shared that JICA has long provided support to Eastern Visayas, even before Typhoon Yolanda. NEDA presented the regional profile and the draft framework for the Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan 2023-2028, the primary guide for regional development in the next six years. NEDA also shared the priority programs of the region, including the highly-touted proposed second San Juanico Bridge.

Although JICA has yet to commit to funding the construction of the proposed Second San Juanico Bridge, they are already involved in preparatory activities for the program, such as the conduct of the pre-feasibility study for the bridge which found that construction will have a favorable impact to the region.

Director Rosales welcomed this development.

“It is very critical that we have an alternative to the San Juanico Bridge. You cannot travel by land from Luzon to Mindanao without passing through us. That’s why it is not only people that pass through the bridge, just as importantly, cargo also passes through,” said RD Rosales.

The proposed second bridge also known as the ‘Janbatas Bridge,’ aims to provide an alternate route in case the nearly 50-year old San Juanico Bridge is damaged due to its age. The proposed project is envisioned to connect the municipality of Babatngon in Leyte with Sta. Rita in Samar.

Article by: Knulp D. Aseo, DRD
Photo by: Mark G. Lomboy, PMED