ON THURSDAY evening, the House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 6869 which seeks to create the Eastern Visayas Development Authority (EVDA) which is meant to spearhead investment promotion and implement economic development strategies in Region 8.
“With EVDA, we can ensure that our investment priorities and promotion strategies are in sync with our development needs and our regional strengths such as our geographical location, our skilled human resources, and our immense tourism potentials,” Tingog party-list Representative Yedda Marie K. Romualdez and House Majority Leader and Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, the primary authors of the bill, said in a joint statement on Friday.
By providing an integrated and coordinated direction to agricultural, industrial, economic and social development, the two lawmakers said EVDA will serve as the lead agency tasked to “steer the sound and balanced industrial, economic and social growth of Eastern Visayas and carry on with the speedy rehabilitation in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan.”
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda), one of the strongest typhoons in recorded human history, flattened parts of Eastern Visayas resulting in great loss of life, livelihood, and property.
Ms. and Mr. Romualdez said that even before Typhoon Haiyan struck, the incidence of poverty in the region had already been worsening.
“While the nation’s overall economic situation has been improving on the average, poverty in the region worsened from 2006 to 2012. In 2014, poverty incidence was at 54.9%; more than half of the region’s population of 4.10 million is now extremely poor and unable to earn the minimum amount necessary to address their basic needs,” they said.
Ms. and Mr. Romualdez said that EVDA will be able to address these issues through its programs and projects that will “increase trade, tourism and investments in the region, encourage private enterprise and advance efforts towards progress and development.”
“Once the promise of a resilient economy is fulfilled, the right economic and social conditions will be realized — one that will provide jobs to the people, especially those in rural areas, increase their productivity and their individual and family income, and thereby improve the level and quality of their living conditions,” the lawmakers added.
The bill seeks P1 billion to cover the initial operating costs of the agency. This will be charged against the unexpended contingency funds of the Office of the President.
The measure will have to go through a third reading before it hurdles the lower chamber. It will be transmitted to the Senate for its own deliberations. — Genshen L. Espedido