The Regional Development Council (RDC) VIII recently endorsed P377.9-billion worth of priority programs and projects of regional agencies and state universities and colleges during its last meeting for the year held on 11 December 2019 at the NEDA Regional Office VIII, Palo, Leyte.

The endorsed projects will serve as inputs to the budget proposals the agencies will submit to the Council for endorsement in early 2020. They were reviewed and vetted to ensure that they address the critical needs of the region and will help achieve the goals set forth in the Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan (RDP) and Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2017-2022 and international commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Meanwhile, the Council welcomed news of the reduction in the region’s poverty incidence from 41.5% in 2015 to 30.9% in 2018. The 10.3 percentage point reduction in the region can be attributed to the huge reductions of the individual provinces in this metric: Northern Samar gained the biggest reduction of 25.9% percentage points followed by Samar (20.2), Southern Leyte (17.3), Leyte (4.1), Eastern Samar (2.0) and Biliran (1.6).

The RDC VIII also endorsed the Investment Portfolio for Risk Resilience (IPRR) of the Province of Eastern Samar for FY 2021-2023. The portfolio is aimed at funding and implementing projects that will minimize the impacts of climate change and strengthen the resiliency of the province. The document is part of the Risk Resiliency Program (RRP), a convergence program of the Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR) Cabinet Cluster, which supports coordinated province-based planning and budgeting of climate change-related investments. Previously, the Council also approved the IPRRs of the Provinces of Samar and Southern Leyte.

Other important matters endorsed by the Council during the meeting include: 1) endorsing the establishment of Japan-Philippine Automotive Technology and Electro-Mechanical Engineering Laboratory in Southern Leyte; 2) enjoining the Central Offices of CHED and DepEd to review existing policies on admission of senior high school graduates into Higher Education programs and consult the industry in view of mismatch issues; and 3) requesting the Province of Leyte to convert the old Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) at Magsaysay Boulevard into an integrated rehabilitation center for drug and criminal offenders; among others.

Article and photo by:  Knulp Aseo, NEDA VIII