Dir. Agnes E. Tolentino of NEDA Region 5 presented the economic plans and programs of the Bicol Region in the next five years during the meeting of the Special Committee on Bicol Recovery and Economic Development (SCBRED) on August 10, 2021 via virtual platform. In said meeting, the members of the House of Representatives for the Bicol Region once more heard about the development potentials of the region and the constraints in realizing the envisioned progress. 

Shared with the legislators are the accomplishments of the last five years focusing on the regional plans completed as well as the core programs and projects implemented under the current administration. Director Tolentino emphasized the remaining core programs and projects deemed as priority yet remained to be on the pipeline or unfunded.

Anchored on the potentials and gaps in the development landscape of Bicol Region, the key strategic directions that the NEDA shared with the Bicolano Representatives are: the continuation of physical connectivity of islands and provinces; promotion of digital economy; investments on eco-zones, micro-small and medium enterprises, and agriculture-based industries; improvement in the health systems capacity and attainment of herd immunity; investments on renewable energy sources; and implementation of peace-building programs. 

The impact of the pandemic on the region’s economic performance in 2021, the implementation of the Mandanas Ruling in 2022, the status of regional core projects, and the “poor” funding of the region’s projects were just some of the issues clarified by the members of the SCBRED.

Congresswoman Jocelyn Fortuno, SCBRED Chairperson and the representative of the 5th District of Camarines Sur, called on her fellow Bicol legislators to consolidate their voices and support the effort to have the regional priority programs and projects included in the central agencies budget. She said, “If we could consolidate our voice in the committee, I think the national government listens. There is a need for a stronger voice of Bicol Region in the central agencies and in the congress.”

SCBRED Chairperson Representative Jocelyn F. Fortuno (top left) presides the SCBRED meeting with Representative Edcel C. Lagman (middle left), Representative Hector S. Sanchez (middle right), Representative Narciso R. Bravo, Jr. (bottom left), and Representative Gabriel H. Bordado, Jr. (bottom right)