BAGUIO CITY – With the marching order of BP2 CAR Committee Chairman, Secretary William Dar of the Department of Agriculture, to create a technical working group to consolidate regional agency initiatives, NEDA-CAR as secretariat of the committee convened regional line agencies for a full-day blended face-to-face and online workshop to create the Cordillera BP2 action plan and implementation guidelines.

Agencies set short-term, medium-term, and long-term target programs, projects, and activities to achieve the goals of BP2. Regional Development Council Vice-Chair and NEDA-CAR Regional Director Milagros Rimando stressed that while BP2 was brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, its essence of countryside development has been the advocacy of national and regional development plans.

Initial data as of November 21 indicate that 507 applicants from Metro Manila have decided to come back to the region.  The Cordillera BP2 Committee earlier agreed that Baguio and Benguet will serve as the pilot areas for implementation in CAR.

About 44% of applicants said they preferred to learn new skills in agriculture and agri-business once they come back to their hometowns and provinces. Director Rimando noted that the preference of returnees to focus on farming is an indication of the importance of agriculture in the regional economy. 

About 45% percent of applicants, on the other hand, expressed desire in learning service-oriented skills in BPOs, online jobs, security and utility, transportation, food & bars, and wellness.  The services sector is the second most productive and second highest employer in the region. With the pandemic adversely affecting the tourism and education sectors, among other industries in the region, the capacitation of workers on diversified skills will increase the resilience of the services sector.

OIC Assistant Regional Director Stephanie Christiansen emphasized that the BP2 initiative is a chance for local government units to implement their local spatial strategies and comprehensive land use plans to spur development of their identified growth centers. With this national initiative to pursue regional development, Christiansen recognized the opportunity for rural municipalities to take advantage of programs to promote their planned growth centers, and support socio-economic development outside highly-urbanized centers like Metro Manila and Baguio City.