Governor Alfredo G. Marañon, Jr., Chairperson of the Regional Development Council (RDC) VI delivered the State of the Region Address (SORA) during the 1st quarter regular RDC VI Meeting on March 20 at the RDC VI Hall of the NEDA Building, Iloilo City.

In his speech, the Governor reported that  Region VI was  the 5th largest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), contributing four  percent to the national economy, despite the damage to property and public infrastructure and utilities caused by Typhoon Yolanda that  struck the region in 2013.

He   called on the   Department of Agriculture to prioritize the production   of high value crops and commodities that can withstand the effects of typhoons. He shared his initiative in Negros Occidental where he started to promote the poultry, dairy and livestock industry.

He also emphasized the importance of rediscovering  and exploring   inland fishery and mariculture  industries   and harnessing them in a manner that is climate-resilient, following the aftermath and lessons learned from Typhoon Yolanda and rising up from the negative growth posted by the municipal fisheries sector.

Meanwhile, he urged the Department of Education to hasten the rehabilitation of Typhoon Yolanda damaged school buildings and classrooms and “build back better” facilities. He also commended the Department of Health for the immediate repair of damaged health units and hospitals after the typhoon, for improving the nutritional status of children and the major  repair  and upgrading of the regional hospitals in Iloilo and Bacolod.

Gov. Marañon also reported  about  the increase in  employment rate, with Region 6 ranking 4th  following Region 2, Region 4B and CAR. In this regard, he emphasized the need to sustain employment generation efforts by attracting more labor-intensive investments in the manufacturing industries so that more jobs will be created, more “lower-skilled” laborers will be hired, and provide income for the poor.

The RDC Chairperson highlighted how the region has generated more revenues in 2014 and how the total paid-up capital of investments in Western Visayas increased. He also  mentioned  how the construction and maintenance work in public infrastructure has contributed to the overall improvement of the business climate and tourism in the region.

On exports and imports, the Governor said that the  region’s biggest exports in 2014 were coal, raw cane sugar, steel scrap, cane molasses, and assorted marine products.  Based on the partial data from the Department of Tourism, the region had bigger tourist arrivals in 2014 generating PhP73.5 billion revenues with domestic visitors still having the biggest share in tourist arrivals of about 75 percent share.  Meanwhile, crime volume and incidence reduced. However,  crime solution efficiency rate increased.

Governor Marañon also discussed  the  RDC VI’s plans for 2015 and accomplishments in 2014,  such as the following: (a) endorsement of the regional line agencies and state colleges and universities 2015 budget; (b) conduct of the ASEAN Economic Community Forum;  (c) success of the Best Public Sector Projects Award; (d) convening of the RDC Advisory Committee Meeting at  the Batasang Pambansa; and (e) hosting of the 5th RDC-Private Sector Representative National Convention in Iloilo City.