KORONADAL CITY – The representatives of the eight (8) congressional districts in Region 12, or SOCCSKSARGEN Region, are to forge ahead with the respective central offices of the eight (8) major agencies in the region that presented their priority programs and projects for the Fiscal Year 2022 before the members of the Regional Development Council (RDC) XII – Advisory Committee (AdCom) and its Executive Committee (ExCom).     

A joint RDC XII-AdCom and ExCom Meeting was held on February 18, 2021, primarily to discuss the priority programs and projects for FY 2022 of the major agencies in preparation for the budget formulation exercise for the said year. It also provided members of both committees an opportunity to support the development priorities enunciated in the SOCCSKSARGEN Regional Development Plan (RDP), the Regional Recovery Plan (RRP) Volume 2, as well as to generate support for policy recommendations needing legislation.

House Deputy Speaker Ferdinand L. Hernandez, Representative of the 2nd District of South Cotabato, served as the Convenor of Region XII congresspersons who are regular members of the RDC XII-AdCom.

Together with the members of the RDC XII-ExCom, the AdCom reviewed the FY 2022 budget proposals of eight major line agencies with the most critical programs and projects for the development of SOCCSKSARGEN. 

The meeting was presided over by General Santos City Mayor Ronnel C. Rivera, RDC XII chairperson. 

Due to COVID-19 health protocols, the joint RDC XII AdCom-ExCom meeting was held via videoconference, unlike in previous years where it was held at the Belmonte Hall of the House of Representatives in Quezon City.

Aside from Rep. Hernandez, personally present during the meeting were Rep. Joselito S. Sacdalan of the 1st District of Cotabato, Rep. Rudy S. Caoagdan of the 2nd District of Cotabato, Rep. Jose I. Tejada of the 3rd District of Cotabato, Rep. Rogelio D. Pacquaio of the Lone District of Sarangani, and Rep. Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles of the 1st District of South Cotabato.

Rep. Princess Rihan M. Sakaluran of the 1st District of Sultan Kudarat was represented by Ms. Grace de Pedro and Rep. Horacio P. Suansing, Jr. was represented by Ms. Monique Valdes. Apart from the eight representatives, Rep. Alberto D. Pacquiao, representative of the OFW Party List was also invited and was represented in the meeting by Atty. Hajjie Herrera.

The Council’s ExCom on the other hand is composed of RDC XII Officials, and Chairpersons and Co-Chairpersons of the Council’s Sectoral Committees namely, the Regional Social Development Committee (RSDC), Infrastructure and Utilities Development Committee (InfraCom), Economic Development Committee (EDC), and Macro-Economy, Development Administration, and Finance Committee (MEDAFC).

Undersecretary Mercedita A. Sombilla of the Regional Development Group of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also graced the meeting.

Sombilla said the convergence efforts among the congresspersons, the local government units, and the regional line agencies of Region XII in deliberating on priority programs and projects that need to be pursued for the development of the region is a good practice that should be sustained.  She briefly shared also about the ReCharge PH, the government’s strategic recovery plan from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The activity provided the congresspersons and the members of the ExCom with the opportunity to review the priority programs and projects included in the  FY 2022 proposed budget of eight major agencies like  DPWH XII, DepEd XII, DSWD XII, DOH XII, CHED XII,  DA XII, CAAP-General Santos City. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) Central Office also presented their budget proposals for the improvement of the General Santos City International Airport and the operationalization of the Central Mindanao Airport located in Tawan-Tawan, Mlang, Cotabato Province. 

Apart from the review of FY 2022 priority programs and projects of the major agencies, the meeting also provided a venue for the congresspersons and the ExCom members to be updated on the Budget Tracking Report for FY 2021 which showed data on regional line agencies’ (RLAs) proposed budget for their FY 2021 priority programs and projects vis-à-vis their approved budget for the year.

The congresspersons also signified their support to the call of President Rodrigo R. Duterte for the passage of the National Land Use Act (NaLUA). Moreover, the Department of Budget and Management oriented the body on the highlights of the National Budget Memorandum No. 138 dated January 6, 2021, and the specific guidelines on the release of funds for FY 2021.  DBM also provided updates on the implementation of the Supreme Court’s Mandanas-Garcia Ruling starting in CY 2022.

A total of 11 resolutions were passed during the meeting. These include the endorsement of the priority programs and projects in the FY 2022 budget proposals of eight agencies to their respective Central Offices, subject to the inclusion of items as instructed jointly by the AdCom-ExCom members.

Specific to DOH XII, among the items recommended by the body for inclusion in its FY 2022 budget proposal, particularly for the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital (SGH) in Surallah, South Cotabato are as follows: a) establishment of a government-run COVID-19 Testing facility, b) upgrading of the SGH into a 300-bed capacity that will prepare it into becoming a tertiary hospital, and c) additional plantilla positions in support of the requirement for a 300-bed capacity hospital. The AdCom was established by virtue of Executive Order 325 to further strengthen the coordinative and consultative mechanism in the region specifically to advise, assist, and support the RDC in discharging its functions.  The Committee convenes at least once a year. (Eden Fornan-Ridao, NEDA XII-DRD)