The RDC VIII-Executive Committee (ExCom) agreed to utilize the region’s share under Energy Regulation (ER) No. 1-94 to support the region’s fight against COVID-19 and consequently approved the new criteria for the prioritization of local government units (LGUs) who may avail of the fund. This came about during the First Virtual RDC VIII-ExCom Meeting on 22 May 2020.

ER 1-94 provides financial benefits for communities at the barangay, municipal/city, provincial, and regional levels hosting energy generating facilities. Recently, the Department of Energy (DOE) allowed the utilization of these funds to support the LGUs in fighting the pandemic.

The Committee also approved the COVID-19 Regional Recovery Program that contains an initial assessment of the ongoing health crisis on the region, aids in setting policies and courses of action to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in the short-term, and put in place measures to ensure the long-term resilience of the region to future pandemics. The RRP lists down COVID-19 programs and projects and the corresponding budgetary requirements for the rest of 2020 until 2022.

RDC VIII-ExCom discussions also touched on the national government’s Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program that recently commenced its pilot implementation when the first batch of beneficiaries arrived in Leyte, Thursday night.

Several LGUs raised their concern that the program might facilitate the entry of the virus in the region. Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez added that beneficiaries must be tested prior to departure to ensure that they are COVID-free upon their return to their home municipalities.

RDC VIII Chairperson Governor Leopoldo Dominico L. Petilla recommended that these issues be raised during the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (RIATF-EID) meeting.

Additionally, the Stay Safe PH platform and the “Be a Volunteer” program of the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) were endorsed by the Committee. The protocols for the resumption of commercial flights under the new normal were also discussed.

The virtual meeting was the first of its kind for the RDC VIII as it observes new protocols amidst the ongoing public health crisis in the country.

Article and Photos by:  Knulp Aseo, NEDA VIII