Bicol Braces for the COVID 19 Challenges

A blended mode of meeting for the Bicol Regional Development Council was held last June 24, 2020 while the region is still under a modified general community quarantine. The RDC Chairperson, Mayor Noel Rosal, and a few heads of regional line agencies gathered in a safe distance while most of the members opted to use the online platform to participate in the proceedings.

Chairperson Rosal emphasized the need to help in sustaining efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the region. In line with this, the RDC confirmed the adoption of the Bicol Regional Recovery Program (RRP) for COVID-19 which aims to ensure recovery towards a resilient Bicol economy. The reprioritized FY 2021 agency budget proposals of state universities and colleges and regional line agencies were also endorsed to the Department of Budget and Management, the Congress, and concerned agency central offices. Such action was towards containing the spread and mitigating the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, restarting the economy to create jobs and attract investments, and transitioning to the “new normal” environment post-pandemic.

The need to improve the region’s health system capacity was addressed with the approval of programs, activities, and projects that will be included in the Bicol RRP and in the reprioritized FY 2021 agency budget proposals. The Department of Health (DOH) and the local government units were further enjoined to execute memoranda of understanding for the establishment of additional facilities and isolation areas for COVID-19 patients in public and private hospitals and the improvement of telehealth services. The Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital, which serves as the COVID 19 center in the region, informed the RDC of their plans to enhance capacity not only for COVID 19 but also for the other services offered by the hospital. Dr. Kristin Peña of the DOH, presented the ways of communicating and keeping safe under the “new normal” condition. She emphasized on the key components of the “new normal, which include: reducing vulnerability and duration of infection, reducing transmission and contact, and putting in place organizational policies and needed investments.

To further aid the RDC in its planning and decision-making function, the DOST Director Rommel R. Serrano introduced the members to the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler for Early Detection of Diseases or FASSSTER which can generate information for anticipating and planning for the fund and resource requirements coming from the COVD 19 plans and programs.

Chairperson Rosal adjourned the meeting with a stern reminder for everyone to remain safe from COVID 19 pandemic.


RDC Chairperson Mayor Noel E. Rosal presided the meeting with RDC members observing the minimum public health standards at the Kanzo Hall and Restaurant, Legazpi City.


RDC members and guests attending the RDC meeting via Zoom Videoconference.