BAGUIO CITY – Socio-Economic and Planning Chief and NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia visited the NEDA-CAR Regional Office in Baguio City on February 6, 2019, as the first of a two-day visit to Baguio to hear the concerns of the Cordillera region. He is joined by Undersecretary for Regional Development Adoracion Navarro. He is welcomed by the NEDA-CAR staff led by Regional Director Milagros Rimando.
Sec. Pernia noted that this was his first visit to Baguio after 20 years. It was also the first visit of a NEDA Secretary in the Cordillera after the late Secretary Cayetano Paderanga’s visit in 2011. This is also Usec. Navarro’s 3rd official visit as NEDA Undersecretary. She previously represented NEDA during the Senate hearing on the BLISTT Development Authority Bill last January 4.
NEDA staff briefed the Secretary on the NEDA-CAR personnel and the region’s socio-economic characteristics. It was also presented that the central theme of the region’s development plan is autonomy. This is in lieu of the several laws and policies of the country that are less than ideal for the Cordillera region. Policies in land use and infrastructure are not wholly applicable due to the mountainous terrain while policies in education lack the necessary cultural sensitivity to address the diverse groups of people in the region.
Usec. Navarro said that she carefully monitors the various projects being implemented in the region. She noted that one such project that exemplifies the difficulties faced by the Cordillera region is the school-building projects of DepEd. DepEd has a specific standard for constructing school buildings that are not applicable to certain areas of the region due to increased transportation costs.
However, since its creation in 1987 and establishment in 1989, the Cordillera region improved in many areas. Sec. Pernia noted that recent years have been favorable to the Cordillera region. He commended the region for registering one of the highest GRDP per capita which is a measure of the production of each person in the region. Pernia also lauded the region for having the highest GRDP growth rate in 2017 at 12.7%.
On administrative matters, Sec. Pernia assured the staff to fast-track the filing of vacancies. Since he entered NEDA, Pernia noticed the long process of promotions and has since taken steps to ensure that deserving NEDA employees are properly motivated and appointed accordingly.