LEGAZPI CITY, May 11 (PIA) -- The 3rd leg of the Pamana sa Pagbabago: Regional Pre-SONA in the Bicol region today highlighted the major accomplishments of the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the plans for the remainder of his term, and the status of the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Bicol International Airport completion in 2021
Bicol Regional Development Chair (RDC) and Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal cited the completion of the Bicol International Airport (BIA) and commencement of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) as legacies of the Duterte administration in the region.
"The president has assured the completion of the Bicol International Airport. Hopefully by November we will be landing at Alobo. It will also be a legacy of our president if the PNR will be started, though the Department of Transportation (DOTr) targets completion by 2025. I believe that the railway is still a better and cheaper alternative for transportation not only for people but for local products as well," Rosal added.
Fastest growing economy in Asia
As reported by the Economic Development cluster, the Philippines has the fastest growing economy in Asia at 6.6% average GDP growth rate from 2016 - 2019. In the 2nd and 3rd quarter of 2020, recovery was led by the manufacturing industry as the economy reopened.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine government was quick to implement programs to help its people and revive the economy. Part of these are various livelihood programs and assistance to help the business sector's transition to digital and contactless business platforms.
At least P205 billion emergency cash grant and the P51 Billion Small Business Wage Subsidy were also released.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Bicol Director Agnes Tolentino noted the sincere effort of the government in uplifting the lives of the Filipinos, further citing the Bicol region with the fastest growing economy in the Philippines in 2018 and 2019.
Department of Health (DOH) Bicol Director Dr. Ernie Vera stressed on organizing the inter-agency systems and intensified health information campaigns for prevention of COVID-19.
The DOH Bicol has likewise stepped up its detection efforts through development of four operational testing centers, expanded testing and contact tracing; and proper surveillance, testing and management of cases at the community and hospitals.
Vera confirmed community transmission in the region, citing 8,990 cases as of May 9, 2021, of which 2,666 are active cases and 6,007 or 67% are recovered patients. He further noted the need to observe the minimum health standard as 1,056 or 39% are asymptomatic carriers which can further increase transmission.
In case of COVID-19 surge, Vera said the Bicol region is ready with the establishment of TTMF, quarantine and isolation facilities and certification of COVID-19 hospitals.
Zero hunger and food security
In response to concerns on hunger and food security, Cabinet Secretary and Chair of the Inter-agency Task Force on Zero Hunger Karlo Nograles, said the government has not rested in responding to challenges especially in this time of pandemic, noting the formulation of the National Food policy to coordinate and ensure whole of government approach in attaining zero hunger.
"In the Bicol region, under the key result area to secure nutrition adequacy, DSWD Region V provided meals to 131,941 children in supervised neighborhood plays and Child Development Centers for SY 2020-2021. DepEd provided milk to 5,097 children and nutritious food packs to 195,073. NNC and Bicol LGUs also continue to implement the Dietary Supplementation Program," he said.
Nograles noted that one impact of this program in the region is the improved ranking of Caramoan, Catanduanes in terms of prevalence of stunting among children 0-59 months old.
Regional Development and Security
Gringo Honasan II, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) secretary and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) of the Bicol region stressed on the initiative of President Duterte to end local communist armed conflict through coordination of different clusters.
He further cited the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) implemented aggressively in barangay level to identify interventions needed in resolving issues and concerns especially in conflict-affected areas. (PIA5/Albay)