Officials of the RDC-CAR and the sectoral committees after the delivery of the SORA. Top row: Arch. Joy Hakcholna, Dr. Ferdinand Gonzales, NEDA Director Susan Sumbeling, NEDA Assistant Director Stephanie Christiansen, Mr. Rafael Gayao, and Mr. Arnel Cabanisas. Bottom row: Ms. Edna Tabanda, Gov. Jerry Dalipog, Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Gov. Elias Bulut, Gov. James Edduba, and Gov. Melchor Diclas. Inset: Dr. Julie Cabato of the Watershed Committee, who is partly covered in the photo (top center)

Governor Bulut, center, leading the delivery of the State of the Region Address.  Around him are the committee chairs and  co-chairs for the sectoral updates.  Clockwise from top left: Gov. Edduba, Gov. Dalipog, Mayor Magalong, Gov. Diclas, Ms. Tabanda, and Mr. Cabanisas

The Regional Development Council – Cordillera Administrative Region Chairperson Governor Elias C. Bulut Jr., together with the Chairpersons and Co-Chairpersons of the Council’s sectoral committees, delivered the State of the Region Address during the Council’s 3rd Quarter En Banc Meeting on September 14, 2023 in Baguio City.

Among the highlights reported was the Cordillera’s remarkable growth being the second fastest-growing economy in the country in 2022 with a growth rate of 8.7 percent.  This is remarkable as it exceeded the region’s pre-pandemic growth of 4.4 percent.  It is attributed to the rebound of the services sector, which quickly recovered from COVID-19, with the tourism sector contributing greatly, as the region saw a great jump in tourist arrivals, from 418 thousand in 2021 to 1.27 million in 2022.  Accelerated infrastructure development of the region was also highlighted in the SORA with national roads increased by 44.1 kilometers in 2022 making all roads connecting the region to the Ilocos and Cagayan regions passable.

Other notable achievements of the region were that landmark laws were passed declaring Banao and Mt. Pulag as protected landscapes and the declaration of three additional Minahang Bayan sites, as reported by Governor Melchor Diclas, while Mayor Benjamin Magalong reported that the region achieved its target of reducing all forms of criminality and sustained the war on illegal drugs, with more barangays declared as drug-free. On social development, it was reported by Mr. Arnel Cabanisas that the implementation of poverty reduction initiatives continued such as the Sustainable Livelihood Program and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the DSWD, the latter benefitting more than 57 thousand households in the region.  Another notable program is the KALAHI-CIDDS, which was said to have brought significant benefits to over 77 thousand households in the region.

The RDC Third Quarter Meeting, which followed the SORA, also yielded notable results with the endorsement of six road projects, one flood control project, and four child development centers for funding by various government agencies. One big-ticket project, the Ilocos Norte-Ilocos Sur-Abra Irrigation Project was also endorsed to the NEDA Board for approval and funding.  The INISAIP is a 25.7 billion-peso NIA-proposed project that can irrigate 14,672 hectares of farmlands in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur with a hydropower generation component with the construction of two hydropower plants with capacities of 14 megawatts and 6.8 megawatts along the Palsuguan River in Lagayan, Abra.

The hosting of the 37th Cordillera Month was turned over to the Development Administration Committee and the Province of Abra as host committee and LGU, respectively. The ceremony featured Governor Bulut of the host province, Apayao, and Ms. Edna Tabanda, Co-Chairperson of the Committee on Indigenous Peoples’Concerns, turning over the hosting of the annual event to Mayor Magalong, Chairperson of the DevAd, through the symbolic passing of a token.

The Council also honored retired Department of Agriculture Regional Executive Director Cameron Odsey for his services to the RDC.  Director Odsey previously served as the Chairperson of the Sub-committee on Agriculture under the Economic Development Committee. DA-CAR OIC RED Atty. Jennilyn Dawayan received the award on behalf of Director Odsey.