President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Albay Governor Al Francis C. Bichara on December 6 (Tuesday) as Chairman of the Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC 5).  Governor Bichara shall serve for a fixed term of three years (2016-2019) coinciding with the regular term of local elective officials.  He is the lone nominee from the government sector while two other nominees were from the private sector, namely John Abejuro representing the fishers sector and Jose Medina, Jr. representing the tourism sector.

   The RDC is composed of all governors and city mayors, mayors of capital towns, presidents of provincial leagues of mayors, heads of regional line agencies, and private sector representatives. It is jointly headed by a chairman and a co-chairman, both appointed by the President of the Philippines.  As provided for in Executive Order No. 325, “the RDC shall be jointly headed by a Chairman and Co-Chairman appointed by the President.  The NEDA Regional Director shall be the ex-officio Vice-Chairman of the RDC.  The NEDA Assistant Regional Director shall be the Secretary of the RDC.”  If the chairman is appointed from the government, the co-chairman must come from the private sector and vice-versa. The President has yet to appoint a co-chairman.

   Governor Bichara previously served as RDC Chairman from 2001 to 2004 while he was Albay provincial governor. He is the third to be appointed by the President, following RDC 10 Chairman Gov. Jose Maria Zubiri, Jr. of Bukidnon and RDC Mimaropa Chairman Gov. Jose C. Alvarez of Palawan.