Mayor Cristina sworn in as Reg’l Dev’t Council Chair
TACLOBAN CITY – Mayor Cristina G. Romualdez was officially sworn in as Regional Development Council (RDC) 8 Chairperson on Thursday, March 16 at the National Economic Development Authority Regional Office. Judge Lauro Andres Castillo, Jr. swore in Mayor Romualdez who was appointed RDC Chair by President Rodrigo R. Duterte last February 9, 2017.
A briefing on the highlights of the Regional Development Plan for 2017 to 2022 coincided with the oath taking ceremony of the New RDC Chair which was attended by NEDA Officials headed by Director Bonifacio Uy, Regional Directors and Private Sector Representatives.
Mayor Romualdez said Poverty alleviation, Tourism Development, Investment Promotion and Infrastructure Resilience will be the focus of her three-year term as head of the highest policy making body in the region.
Romualdez said the role of RDC in coordinating local initiatives that cold further improve and accelerate the socio-economic development has become imperative.
“The presence of natural hazards negatively impact the socio-economic growth in the region that is why …local chief executives should be the one leading development efforts in their localities, “she added.
Meanwhile, Director Bonifacio Uy said President Duterte had placed his trust on Mayor Romualdez to shepherd the development of Eastern Visayas which is composed of six provinces, seven cities and 136 municipalities.
As “alter ego” of the President in the region she will head the 60-member regional policy making body said the NEDA Director who also sit as Co-Chairperson of the Regional Council .
Mayor Romualdez is the only RDC Chairperson appointed so far among the four Regions of the Visayas Area. President Duterte has so far only appointed an RDC Co-chairperson in Region 7 which is composed of Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor.
Among the development challenges that the new RDC Chair will be tackling is the slow and unsustained economic growth, High poverty situation in the three Samar Island provinces, and the High and increasing underemployment rate.
The Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) of Region 8 which is the third poorest in the country is pegged at a modest 2.1%.
On the other hand, Tourism is the “saving grace” of the Region; Tourist arrivals have been growing steadily since 2011 and peaked in 2015 disclosed a report prepared by NEDA.
Meanwhile, Agriculture and Fisheries, Manufacturing and Tourism and the development of existing and proposed Economic Zones hold bright prospects for the Region.
Among the priority infrastructure projects of the incoming RDC is the modernization of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban, construction of the inter-island link bridges that will connect the region to Bohol Surigao and Luzon, the Binahaan Flood Control Project, Tide Embankment and the continuing assistance in Tacloban North.
The RDC is mandated to accelerate regional growth through plan and policy formulation coordination, investment programming and budget review, project Evaluation and Endorsement and Project Monitoring.
Mayor Romualdez will preside in a Full Council meeting on March 22. – HENRY JAMES G. ROCA/CIO