Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General Emmanuel F. Esguerra led the inauguration of the rehabilitated building and facilities of the NEDA Regional Office (NRO) VIII. Also present were Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director Richard Bolt, NRO VIII Regional Director Bonifacio G. Uy, RDC VIII Chairperson and Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico L. Petilla. The inauguration was held last April 29 at the NEDA VIII, Government Center in Palo, Leyte.

Highlights of the inauguration were the holding of a thanksgiving mass followed by ribbon cutting, unveiling of marker, blessing of the office building, equipments and new vehicles, and the commemorative tree planting.

Also included in the inaugural program was the ribbon cutting and blessing of the GOP-ADB Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) Yolanda Project Management Office. The Project Management Office is located inside the NEDA VIII building and was established as provided for in the JFPR Grant Implementation Manual.

In his message, Secretary Esguerra emphasized the significance of providing a good working environment and investing in developing capabilities of the employees to deliver the tasks effectively and respond to the challenges brought about by disasters and other eventualities. “It is because of this, the NEDA Central Office, through former Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, has provided full support to the NEDA VIII rehabilitation program,” Secretary Esguerra said. He added that the successful rehabilitation of the NEDA VIII building and facilities signifies not only physical resiliency but also resiliency in spirit that should further enable NRO VIII to deliver NEDA’s mandates.

Meanwhile, ADB Country Director for the Philippines, Richard Bolt, in his message, thanked NRO VIII personnel for the continued smooth coordination in the implementation of the JFPR projects in Eastern Visayas. He also congratulated NEDA for the quick recovery and restoration of its office and facilities, to better respond to the needs of its clients.

NEDA VIII building, together with its office equipment and facilities, suffered total damage due to Super Typhoon Yolanda last November 2013. To facilitate resumption of its functions, the agency immediately started its building rehabilitation/reconstruction. The NRO VIII is one of the first government agencies in the region to start clearing its premises to ensure continuous office operations.

The initial reconstruction efforts was funded through NEDA’s continuing appropriations for 2013 amounting to PhP29.54 million. The initial funds were allocated for land improvements, building reconstruction, repair and purchase of office and ICT equipment. An appropriation of PhP5.5 million was also approved for 2015 to improve and complete the remaining reconstruction works of the building.

Meliza Y. Bacolbas/ DRD/NRO VIII