BANGUED, ABRA – Regional Development Council Chair and Abra Governor Joy Bernos highlighted the steps the RDC has taken in the past year towards a closer working relationship with the local governments during the 2020 1st Quarter RDC meeting in Bangued, Abra on March 5.
“Since I was appointed as RDC-CAR Chair, it has been my intention that the RDC be appreciated by and is relevant to our local government units down to the barangay levels,” she said. Some of the initiatives to achieve this include the establishment of the Project Development Assistance Group, the incorporation of the priority projects of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) in the regional agency budgets, and closer coordination with CAR Congress representatives and governors during to ensure alignment of their priorities in the proposed regional agency budgets.
NEDA-CAR Director and RDC Vice-Chair Milagros Rimando had earlier underscored the region’s initiatives that have helped accelerate local development and served as a model for other regions in 2019. She cited several policy recommendations that influenced national decision-making such as the adoption of the simplified Minahang Bayan application process. Considered as a breakthrough by Rimando, this policy recommendation emanated from the RDC Watershed and Environmental Management Committee. Another was an RDC resolution from the Committee on Indigenous Peoples’ Concerns (CIPC) which urged the NCIP to simplify the FPIC process for IP knowledge researches.
One of the most significant initiatives of the RDC is raising the issue on the approval and endorsement of inter-regional infrastructure projects. Rimando shared that the joint task force of the RDC Regional Project Monitoring Committee, Infrastructure Development Committee, and the CIPC which conducted the fact-finding and validation activities on the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the RDC was able to shed light on the need to conduct consultations not just among direct project beneficiaries but also among host communities. Moreover, the RDC Committee continues to work in pushing for the amendment of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 to increase the benefits of host communities.
In keeping with the directive to localize RDC development initiatives, Rimando shared that the RDC Social Development Committee endorsed the institutionalization of community-driven development. The initiative of this Committee on preparing the guidelines for Indigenous Peoples’ housing was adopted by the National Housing Authority for nationwide implementation as well.
The RDC, with support from NEDA-CAR as its secretariat, is the highest policy-making body in the Cordillera that sets its socio-economic development direction. The Council meets every quarter to decide on regional development matters which are discussed and raised in RDC sectoral and support committees.
By Marlo T. Lubguban