LAGAWDE, Ifugao – The Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera disclosed that the region had been the fastest growing region in the country wherein its economy expanded by 12.1 percent with all major sectors having achieved significant growth last year.
In his State of the Region Address (SORA) during the 31st founding anniversary held at the Don Bosco gymnasium here Sunday, RDC-CAR chairman and Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan revealed that industry grew by 18.6 percent rebounding from a negative performance in 2016, the agriculture sector recovered from a negative performance in 2016 to grow by 5.1 percent and the services sector grew by 5.8 percent although it was a slowdown from the previous year’s 7.1 percent.
The RDC-CAR chairman noted that employment in the region is at its highest at 95.7 percent and unemployment was also at its lowest at 4.3 percent wherein there was also an improvement in the quality of jobs being generated as the region has successfully increased in the number of wage, salary and entrepreneurial workers while the region was able to successfully reduce the number of unpaid family workers.
“Although our economy is growing, we are also aware of the weak link between our agriculture and industry. This disconnect may be remedied if we have more micro, small and medium enterprises while encouraging existing ones to be more productive, creative and innovative. We see our MSMEs as significant engines of growth, especially if we can linked them to our agriculture,” Domogan stressed.
He added the RDC-CAR aims for a region that is progressive and inclusive that is why the development path that is poverty reducing, a path that develops the vast potentials of the region, a path that is environmentally sound and sustainable must be already pursued.
The local chief executive can still do much in growing the region’s economy in an autonomous stats because the regional government will now have greater control of the region’s resources with lesser restraint from outside forces aside from the fact that the regional government can craft programs, projects and activities suitable to the prevailing situation regionwide.
According to him, the region must be able to squarely face the challenges of changing weather patterns that may disrupt the economic gains that the region is currently reaping, thus, enterprises that use technologies that will not harm the fragile environment must now be developed apart from restoring and protecting the remaining critical watersheds around the region.
He explained that tradition and modernity need not to be at doors with each other considering that Cordillerans are a people strongly bound to their culture and traditions but they are also a people willing to embrace change and to adopt to change as well as a people with indigenous knowledge, practices and technologies governing several aspects of life, particularly in agriculture, and forestry, health and medicine, architecture design and construction among others.
The RDC-CAR recognized the efforts of local government units in continually instituting governance reforms and sustained local development, especially in promoting transparency, integrity and quality service delivery. Last year, 23 local government units from the Cordillera were recognized under the Seal of Good Local Governance being spearheaded by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) wherein Kalinga and Mountain Province emerged as among the provincial awardees.
He commended the partnership between the local governments and the police personnel in making the communities and citizens regionwide safe wherein there has been a continuing decline of the volume of crime committed.
Domogan echoed to the local government officials President Rodrigo Duterte’s uncompromising stand against corruption, criminality and illegal drugs considering that they play a significant role in keeping the society intact, in keeping the communities safe, in making businesses prosper, in uplifting the lives of the people among other important matters.
“As the President has stated in his national security policy, there can never be real, tangible and felt development without making our people feel secure,” Domogan stressed.
Likewise, he claimed that enduring peace can be attained only if government meets the fundamental needs of every man, woman and child and that peace, security and development do go hand in hand,” Domogan exclaimed.
According to him, to convince Cordillerans to vote for autonomy, regional bureaucrats must show readiness to handle financial, administrative and development affairs of the region for they will continue to be in the frontline in implementing the region’s development agenda in an autonomous government.
He reminded the people of the Cordillera development vision that embodies the region’s ideals wherein the people are proud of their culture and heritage rooted in spiritually, shall have a truly autonomous region of enlightened and empowered citizenry who shall pursue sustainable development where responsibilities and benefits are equitably shared by all.
By Dexter A. See