Bicol RTF-Economy Cluster Unites to Combat COVID 19

Regional line agencies and private sector members of the Economy Cluster were organized under the Regional Task Force on COVID 19 in the Bicol Region. With the goal to heal as one, the Cluster, as chaired by NEDA, identified the interventions appropriate to address the impact of the pandemic.

Foremost among the concerns was the sufficiency of food for every Bicolano. On this, the regional head of the Department of Agriculture, RED Rodel Tornilla, reported that the supply of rice in the region is sufficient to meet the regional demand for the year. NFA Regional Manager, Engr. Henry Tristeza added that about 98 percent of the NFA Bicol’s inventory is in palay form. Having enough milled rice is a challenge given that milling establishments do not operate at 100 percent capacity. Currently, the stocks of NFA is replenished with rice procured outside of the region, such as Mimaropa, so as to meet the demands of the LGUs and the DSWD.

Moreover, DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia updated the body on the Social Amelioration Program (SAP). Subsidy of PhP 3,650 was given to 315,544 beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), while funding for the implementation of non-4Ps SAP have been downloaded to 114 LGUs amounting to PhP 3.861 Billion. The region has the highest accomplishment rate on distribution. However, there are also issues on the recipients where some non-deserving or unlisted names still receive the financial assistance.

Regional Director Rommel Serrano of DOST, meanwhile, shared the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler or FASSSTER, a web-based disease surveillance platform which forecasts possible CoVID cases in a given area at a specified period of time based on interventions. “Data generated from this will support the decision making of DOH, other government agencies, LGUs and healthcare facilities, in terms of resource planning and measures to mitigate the spread of the virus”, Director Serrano shared.

Further, NEDA 5 presented the implications of CoVID 19 on the Bicol regional economy where the services sector was the most affected particularly the tourism subsector. As expected to similarly occur in all regions nationwide, the deceleration of GRDP growth rate in Bicol would result from the decline of the industry and services sector. In the case of the region, the MSMEs will suffer the brunt and thus the Department of Trade and Industry has declared moratorium for the loans under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) Program along with other assistance granted to small business owners.

The region gears up for the crafting of the Regional Recovery Program to combat COVID 19 and sees its completion on May 15, 2020.