Region 12 seeks P124B in investments to recover from impact of pandemic

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 28 August) – Development planners in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) are pushing for around P124 billion in public and private investments in the next two years to help the region fully recover from the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Teresita Socorro Ramos, vice chairperson of the Regional Development Council (RDC)-12, said the proposed funding will operationalize the second component of the region’s recovery plan in line with the continuing pandemic.

She cited the Volume 2 of Soccsksargen’s Rehabilitation and Resiliency Plan (RaRP) for 2021-2022 crafted by the council.

“It provides the blueprint to sustain the interventions implemented during the economic restart phase and intensify the rehabilitation efforts toward recovery and resiliency under the new normal condition,” she said in a statement.

Ramos, who is also director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-12, said it requires total investments of P90.82 billion for 2021 and P33.70 billion for 2022.

Around P6.44 billion has been earmarked for the initial phase, which involves short-term response initiatives to cushion the economic impact and sustain the efforts to contain the spread of the disease.

NEDA-12 earlier said these include assistance to affected businesses and workers and the purchase of necessary supplies for health frontliners and other workers.

Alfredo Bronx Hebrona, chairperson of the RDC-12 infrastructure and utilities development committee, said a major chunk of the RaRP investments will fund new and pending vital infrastructure projects in the region.

He cited the continuing rehabilitation and improvement of the international airport here, widening of major highways, construction of inter-regional road networks, and the construction and rehabilitation of bridges, among others.

These projects were considered as top priorities for funding and implementation based on the regional programming, he said.

Citing their monitoring, Hebrona said a number of infrastructure projects in the region were stalled because of the pandemic and now being revived “since they are also crucial to our economy.”

“Investing on public infrastructure is among the fastest ways to stimulate economic activities and we’re banking on that here,” he said in a phone interview.

A NEDA-12 briefer said the RaRP was based on the inputs from the RDC-12’s sectoral committees on macro-economy, development administration, and finance; economic development; social development; and, infrastructure and utilities development.

It said the plan underwent a consultative planning process, which included peer review, internal consistency check and consultation, technical briefing for agency planning officers and provincial/city planning and development coordinators and conduct of validation workshops.

It takes in the principle convergence or strategic partnership, Filipino spirit of Bayanihan, volunteerism, accelerated adaptation towards sustained resiliency and being inclusive “to ensure that no one is left behind in the fight against the pandemic.”

It was recently endorsed to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, NEDA-Regional Development Group and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) by the RDC-12 executive committee, Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Regional Task Force (RTF) on Covid-19 and the Regional IATF on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

RIATF-EID and RTF on Covid-19 will coordinate closely with RDC-12 to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the plan through the regional project monitoring and evaluation system. (MindaNews)