BAGUIO CITY – The Economic Development Committee of the Regional Development Council (RDC) discussed ways forward for the Economic Rehabilitation Program for Itogon, Benguet on November 4. The program was a response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s mandate to he lp victims of the landslide incidents that occurred in the municipality last October 2018. The Convergence of 18 government agencies was aimed at providing livelihood opportunities for victims of Typhoon Ompong in Itogon, Benguet.

The rehab plan which will be implemented until 2020 include the Emergency Employment Program, training and scholarships, organization of cooperatives, operationalization of the Itogon Negosyo Center, and facilitation of the employment of scholars to various partner corporations.

One of the committee’s first tasks after the President’s orders was to conduct an Economic Forum to provide immediate aid which included the Department of Trade and Industry’s Diskwento Caravan and Negosyo Center, an Interagency Job Caravan, the Department of Agriculture’s TienDA farmers’ outlet, and the National Food Authority’s Rolling Store.

It also included one-on-one consultations with the victims to determine their immediate and long-term needs as a result of the landslides.  The forum profiled 57 respondents in need of scholarships, 211 in need of livelihood assistance, 42 in need of employment opportunities, and 16 in need of various skills training. The forum conceived of five action committees focused on their specific needs, (1) job generation, (2) trainings, (3) marketing, (4) organizational development, and (5) scholarship.

The Rehabilitation Program is one of several accomplishments of the committee in 2019. Another primary accomplishment is the crafting of the RDC-endorsed Cordillera Investment Priorities Plan 2019-2022 which serves as a guide for private investors on potential investment priority industries and areas in the Cordillera region as determined by the Cordillera Local Government Units and regional line agencies.

In the coming year, the committee plans to review and endorse to the RDC the updated Regional Development Plan and Regional Development Investments Program 2017-2022, the updated Coffee Industry Development Plan, and the Cordillera Farm Tourism Plan 2019-2021 and also continue its support to the proposed Cordillera Weaving Plan championed by the Regional Research, Development, and Innovation Committee.  The committee will also lead the coordination of the 2020 Cordillera Month celebration together with Mountain Province.

The Economic Development Committee held its final quarterly meeting on November 4 where the accomplishments and succeeding plans of the committee were discussed. It works with NEDA-CAR as its technical secretariat.