The NEDA Board-Regional Development Committee (RDCom) for Visayas Area had its second meeting for the year on August 19, 2015 at the L’ Fisher Hotel, Bacolod City. The meeting was considered high-level since Chairpersons of the Regional Development Councils (RDCs) and four governors from the Visayas were present, namely: RDC VIII Chairperson and Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, RDC VII Chairperson and Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto, RDC VI Chairperson and Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon, and the Committee’s guest representing one of the provinces of the newly-created Negros Island Region, Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo. Also in attendance were: NEDA VI Regional Director (RD) Ro-Ann Bacal, Vice-Chairman of RDC VI; NEDA VII RD Efren Carreon, Vice-Chairman of RDC VII; and NEDA VIII RD Bonifacio Uy, Vice-Chairman of RDC VIII. Governor Petilla who chairs the RDCom Visayas, presided over the meeting.

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon, being the host of the meeting, warmly welcomed the participants. In his message, he expressed that the Visayas Group of Islands has many potentials. He spoke of the 27-hectare Mambukal resort in the province of Negros Occidental which was established before World War II by then President Manuel Quezon. He bared that the resort brings in an annual average income of PhP10 million to the province, mostly from local tourists. Aside from the huge income from the resort, Governor Marañon said that resort facilities will soon generate more jobs. He disclosed that a Japanese group is proposing to put up a 10-bedroom facility in the resort’s premises and train health workers to be employed in Japan as caregivers. The Governor also talked about the province’s varied agricultural activities that are all typhoon-resilient. They hope to be rice-sufficient as they are now enhancing their irrigation systems. Lastly, he expressed his view that the RDCom Visayas is a good venue for sharing best practices that can be replicated by other provinces in the Visayas regions.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the recognition of the Negros Island Region (NIR) as new member of the RDCom Visayas. This was formalized through RDCom Visayas Resolution No. 10, s. 2015. As a manifestation of its support to the NIR, the Committee also passed Resolution No. 11, s. 2015, “Requesting DBM to Hasten the Budgetary Allocations and Fund Releases for the Establishment of the Regional Offices of the Negros Island Region” and Resolution No. 12, s. 2015, “Requesting His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III to Appoint an Interim Chair for the NIR to Sit in the RDCom Visayas Until the NIR is Fully-Implemented.”

Another related concern discussed during the meeting were the implications of the creation of the NIR on the Visayas Spatial Development Framework (VSDF). The VSDF is the Visayas-wide spatial plan for 2015-2030, which was endorsed by the RDCom Visayas during its last meeting on March 24, 2015. Initially, there was a question on how the NIR will affect the listing of strategies on concentration, connectivity and vulnerability reduction; investment programming; and the hierarchy/network of settlements which originally considered only three regions in the Visayas, i.e. Central, Western and Eastern. The RDCom Visayas agreed to proceed with the finalization of the VSDF and revisit and finalize it when the NIR becomes fully operational.

Other resolutions passed during the meeting were: (1) Resolution No. 13, s. 2015, entitled “Requesting DOTC, PPA, LTO and DPWH to Come Up With a Joint Circular That Will Strengthen the Monitoring of the Entry and Exit of Overload Trucks/Trailers To and From PPA and Cebu Port Authority Ports”; (2) Resolution No. 14, s. 2015, entitled “Requesting PPA, Cebu Port Authority and Other Concerned Agencies to Amend Their Guidelines Prescribing the Maximum Load Limits to Conform with the Guidelines Set by DPWH”; (3) Resolution No. 15, s. 2015, entitled “Requesting PPA and MARINA to Devise and Implement an Effective Queuing System at the Port of Matnog in Sorsogon”;  and (4) Resolution No. 16, s. 2015, entitled “Nominating Dean Joseph Michael P. Espina as Regional Development Expert from the Private Sector to the NB-RDCom Mother Committee.”

The meeting culminated with a press conference wherein the members of the RDCom Visayas shared with the local media, the highlights of the meeting and insights concerning the development of Visayas.

Hiyasmin Batan Martillo, PFPD, NEDA VIII