By Louella Desiderio, May 5, 2024; The Philippine Star,project%20implementation%20and%20addressing%20bottlenecks.

Manila, Philippines — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is pushing for the issuance of an executive order (EO) aimed at strengthening the role of Regional Development Councils (RDCs) as part of efforts to achieve inclusive growth and development.

In a statement, the NEDA said a meeting was held on April 30, with RDC chairpersons and President Marcos to discuss various regional development initiatives aligned with the strategies under the country’s overall development blueprint or the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028 and Regional Development Plans.

During the meeting, the NEDA presented the proposal for an EO aimed at enabling the RDCs to play a greater role in formulating regional development plans and investment programs, as well as in reviewing agency budgets, monitoring project implementation and addressing bottlenecks.

Serving as the counterpart of the NEDA Board at the sub-national level, the RDC is responsible for coordinating and setting the direction of economic and social development efforts in the region.

“RDCs play a vital role in steering socioeconomic development at the regional and local level by bridging the gap between national agencies and local government units,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.

The NEDA said the proposal would build upon the foundation laid by EO 325 issued in 1996 by addressing weaknesses including the RDCs’ limited presence in the local government units (LGUs) and role in terms of funding for priority regional programs and projects.

It will also address the lack of budget for RDCs’ monitoring and capacity-building activities.

“With these amendments, the RDCs will be given the mandate to identify priority inter-LGU and special development projects and further pursue capacity-building activities at the local level,” Balisacan said.

NEDA expects the EO to complement its ongoing efforts to promote regional development including the Regional-National Investment Programming dialogues, capacity-building activities for monitoring and evaluation, conduct of studies for effective implementation of the full devolution initiative, as well as the approval of Infrastructure Flagship Projects and public-private partnership projects.

RDC chairpersons also presented their proposed priority programs and projects during the meeting.

“With even brighter economic prospects on our country’s horizon, it is indeed high time that we strengthen the mandate of our RDCs to make them more effective at serving as the highest policymaking and coordinating body in our regions. They will also play a crucial role as we approach the operationalization of the full devolution process,” Balisacan said.