DAVAO DE ORO – Virtual is the new normal. The Regional Development Council (RDC) XI just recently launched its midterm update ceremony virtually on Facebook and PTV Davao via ZOOM on August 26, 2020. The ceremony presented Region XI’s midterm updates, success stories, and developments in the last three years of implementing the 2017-2022 Davao Regional Development Plan.

Guided by the pillars of pagbabago (change), malasakit (care),and patuloy na pag-unlad (continued development), Davao Region has not stopped rolling out high-impact and long-lasting projects which has led to the production of jobs, opportunities, improved lives and lifestyles, transformed communities and people; and brought peace and security for dabawenyos in the last three years. Region XI’s current progress is also much in line with Ambisyon 2040, the national government’s long-term vision which serves as the region’s grounds for development planning. It is the strong partnership and inter-dependence of the region’s local government units, private sectors, and other key partners which paved way for its fast and inclusive growth.

RDC XI Chairperson and Davao de Oro Provincial Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy opened the virtual ceremony with a speech highlighting that even crises like the current pandemic still carry the potential to be turned into opportunities.

From pandemic to opportunity

RDC XI Chairman Gov. Tyron Uy saw it most fitting to launch the council’s midterm updates at this time, when the country is still facing the COVID-19 pandemic. With the community quarantines brought about by the pandemic managing to land strong blows on the region’s economy, now is the best time to recalibrate and launch the next steps and plans to recover what the pandemic has stolen from the people and begin to restart the region’s momentum pre-pandemic.

Davao Region has also found ways to turn the COVID crisis into opportunities, as it brought the realization and the urgency to make fast internet connectivity as accessible as possible for everyone, especially with the world now shifting to the digital age. The call to invest on digitalization greatly intensified as classes are now to be done online as with the Department of Education’s (DepEd) distance learning, and even as most companies and businesses have also transferred transactions, meetings, and even events and ceremonies like the RDC XI online midterm update on virtual platforms. This in turn favors the Provincial Local Government Unit (PLGU) of Davao de Oro in its goal to become a knowledge based economy in the future, relying in science and innovation.

The need to ensure food security was also amplified at this time, which calls for the development and expansion of agriculture industries, which also would, in turn, benefit small farmers, local traders, and producers. The reduced traffic in roads and highways as effect of the stay-at-home policy during the pandemic will also be taken advantage of to speed up infrastructure projects.

Focal points for years 2020-2022

With Davao Region being Mindanao’s best performing economy in the last three years, the council’s outline for the next years follow the most fitting theme of “Committing to Sustain Change”. Though the council’s plans were hampered by the pandemic, development for the coming years had been recalibrated to focus on restoring what the pandemic had affected most, such as greater  investments for the region’s healthcare system, the continuation and improvement of high-impact infrastructure projects to jump-start the region’s recovery, investing in faster internet connectivity to be able to support digital economy and “new normal” practices, extending development to the agricultural sector to ensure food security, and the prioritization of Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA).

The Digos-Tagum Railway System

But perhaps the most exciting and looked-forward priority project of RDC XI in the coming years is the Digos-Tagum Railway System. This railway system will connect Digos City, Davao City, and Tagum City via train to provide the people with a quicker and easier mode of transportation between the three mentioned cities. This project is under the Mindanao Railway Project, which has also been a top priority of President Rodrigo Duterte in his Build Build Build Prorgram. RDC XI has also recently held a special virtual meeting to discuss the details of the launching of this program. The blueprints and plans for this project was revealed during the ceremony.

One Davao

RDC XI Chairperson Gov. Tyron Uy ended his opening speech by saying, “This pandemic must and shall not stop us from realizing this Davao Regional Development Plan. The work continues.” With this, RDC XI, through the region’s local government units, private sectors, and other key partners, will continue to push on with the same passion and zeal to achieve its goal to provide a prosperous and peaceful life for all dabawenyos in the one Davao Region.

Other key people present in the virtual ceremony were Secretary Wendel Avisado of the Department of Budget and Management, the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security, Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla of NEDA, and Director Maria Lourdes Lim of NEDA XI.

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