June 28, 2022 – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) underscored the importance of the full resumption of face-to-face schooling, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and smart infrastructure in its last #AskNEDA media briefing under the Duterte administration on Monday.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua opened the media briefing by reiterating NEDA’s top four proposed priorities for the next planning period. These are innovation, regional equity, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and smart infrastructure.

Chua also cited some of the Duterte administration’s top achievements, such as the Build, Build, Build infrastructure program; the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program; the Rice Tariffication Law; the National ID Program; the Ease of Doing Business Act; and the Amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Foreign Investments Act, and the Public Service Act.

To strengthen the country’s recovery, Chua reiterated the urgent need to fully reopen face-to-face schooling.

“Ashby and other children can go to the malls, play on the streets, and even travel, yet they cannot fully have face-to-face classes. This is very unfortunate. For many Filipinos who do not have power, money, or influence, a good education serves as the stepping stone to realizing their potential and securing a better future. I am one of them,” Chua said.

“With all our children safely back inside their classrooms, our recovery from the pandemic will be stronger and their future more secure,” Chua added.

During the briefing, NEDA officials also presented updates on the government’s strategies in responding to climate change and achieving sustainable and smarter infrastructure.

Undersecretary Mercedita A. Sombilla of the Regional Development Group  said that NEDA recognizes the magnitude and urgency of the climate crisis and is committed to advancing adaptation and mitigation actions in the country to address climate change.

According to Sombilla, the Philippines has to focus on four key areas for the country to stick to its commitment of reducing 75 percent of emissions by 2030, as outlined in its First Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement.

“First, we have to ensure that the new policies are geared toward building climate resilience and enabling low-carbon development. Policies in place should be reviewed and amended to gear them along the same track,” said Sombilla.

“Second, we have to enhance the awareness of local communities about climate change and build their capacities to implement climate smart technologies. Third would be to scale up the mobilization of climate finance to support the implementation of priority adaptation and mitigation actions,” she added.

Lastly, Sombilla said there is a need to strengthen existing institutional capacities to track climate finance flows and measure collective progress.

Meanwhile, OIC-Undersecretary Roderick M. Planta of the Investment Programming Group highlighted the importance of investing in Smart and Sustainable Infrastructure. He also gave an overview of the country’s participation in the Sustainable Infrastructure Programme in Asia (SIPA), a program that guides nations into becoming resilient, low-emission countries compatible with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Smart and sustainable infrastructure is used by developed nations as a tool in solving socioeconomic and environmental issues. Pursuing it enables a country to achieve a balance between a high quality of life, a competitive economy, and a sustainable environment,” explained Planta.

Planta also said that a single national policy on infrastructure sector master plans will harmonize the government’s master planning process and ensure that everything is updated to the emerging needs of the country.

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