Pandemic Brings 8.4% Economic Contraction to Bicol in 2020

RD Agnes E. Tolentino, NEDA Director and Chairperson of the Regional Statistics Committee, presented the economic performance of the Bicol Region during the nationwide simultaneous press conference conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority last April 29, 2021. The Bicol Region recorded economic contraction by 8.4 percent from a positive growth of 8.2 percent in 2019.

In 2018 and 2019, the Bicol Region’s economy was the fastest growing economy in the country. However, in 2020, it contracted by 8.4 percent from a positive growth of 8.2 percent in 2019. This is below the annual target range of 6.7 percent to 7.7 percent growth as set under the Updated Bicol Regional Development Plan (RDP) 2017 to 2022. These resulted in a significant decrease in GRDP value by about PHP47.48 billion, from PHP564.94 billion in 2019 to PHP517.46 billion.

The Bicol Region has been challenged to improve the economy on three fronts, namely: (1) imposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic that started in March 2020; (2) series of tropical cyclones (TCs) Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses (QRU) that ravaged the Bicol Region in the last quarter of the year, and (3) the African Swine Fever (ASF) which affected some parts of the region. These significantly affected the region’s economy and development prospects.

To address these challenges, Bicol adopted the (a) Regional Recovery Program (RRP) for COVID-19 Phase I Post-ECQ to carry out immediate socioeconomic development responses and support interventions; (b) Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (RRP) for TCs QRU to restore socio-economic conditions in disaster-affected areas; and (c) measures to contain the spread of the ASF virus.

All the three major production sectors recorded negative growth rates. The AFF sector contracted by 1.3 percent from a positive growth of 4.7 percent in 2019 due to challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, weather disturbances, and pest infestations. The industry sector also contracted by 13.6 percent from a positive growth of 7.9 percent in 2019 which was attributed to contraction in the mining and quarrying, and construction subsectors. The services sector also contracted by 6.9 percent from a positive growth of 9.8 percent in 2019 which was attributed to contraction in the transportation and storage, other services, and accommodation and food service activities subsectors.

In her statement, Director Tolentino affirmed that, “a gradual and safe reopening of the economy will be imposed to better manage the risks. Bicol will continue to (1) carry out the RRP for COVID-19 Recovery and Resiliency stages, Action Plans of the Task Groups of the Recovery Cluster under the National Action Plan for COVID-19 Phase III, and Bicol RRP for TCs QRU; (2) implement timely roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines; (3) fully implement the Bayanihan 2 Fund; (4) complete big-ticket infrastructure projects; (5) increase operational capacity and promote competitiveness in the services sector; and (6) promote seamless social service delivery through the Philippine Identification System”.

The NEDA Secretary, she said, opined “that the COVID-19 would stay with us for some time. What is important here is that we can already have our interventions for our health sector, continue with the vaccination, ensure the cooperation of everyone regarding the health protocols, keep everybody safe, and continue the investments even for the expenditures coming from the government side. If that will be maintained or even enhanced, we can still fight the pandemic.”

In closing, Director Tolentino expressed high hopes that with the support and commitment from everyone, Bicol will be able to rebound its economy to pre-pandemic level by 2022. She said that, “it is a must to remain committed towards attaining every Filipino and every Bicolano’s vision of a matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay para sa lahat”.

Indeed, tuloy ang aksyon para sa Ambisyon.


RD Agnes E. Tolentino of NEDA Region 5 presents the statement on the 2020 economic performance of the region on April 29, 2021


RD Cynthia L. Perdiz of PSA Region 5 presents the data on the 2020 economic performance of the region on April 29, 2021