Presided by NB RDCom-MAC and Caraga Regional Development Council (RDC) Chairperson, and Agusan del Norte Governor Dale B. Corvera, the NEDA Board Regional Development Committee – Mindanao Area Committee (NB RDCom-MAC) convened for its 33rd Conference on 22 April 2022 via a teleconference.
At the core of said Conference’s discussions were proposed innovative measures and policy recommendations pushed by the RDCs of Mindanao concerning infrastructure development. In his opening message, Chairperson and Governor Corvera underscored the significant role of the NB RDCom-MAC towards a holistic and inclusive rehabilitation and recovery of the Mindanao Regions from the COVID-19 pandemic, recent disasters, and the ongoing Ukraine-Russia Crisis.
The Committee specifically deliberated and endorsed the policy recommendations for the Department of Energy (DOE) to adopt the community-based net metering for renewable energy (RE) systems that have been implemented in the Davao Region. Dr. Nelson H. Enano, Jr. of the Mindanao Renewable Energy Center (MERC) highlighted that RE technologies provide cleaner alternative energy sources compared to fossil-based power plants since the net metering scheme enables power generators to process excess electricity produced to the grid through cost off-setting.
The Committee also backed the proposal of RDC XII on the integration of solar panels as a component of the housing projects of the National Housing Authority (NHA), particularly in off-grid areas. RDC XII Vice Chairperson and NEDA XII Regional Director Teresita Socorro C. Ramos shared that the provision of solar panels is advantageous and economical to the community based on the experience of the earthquake-affected communities in Kidapawan City and Magpet, Cotabato Province, where the NHA XII provided solar lighting system in its housing units.
Other policy recommendations and innovative measures discussed and reinforced by the Committee were the policy recommendations of RDC X on the retention of 2G and 3G cellular phone services as part of the Cellular Mobile Telecommunications Services (CMTS) Resilient Network Design and expediting the road right-of-way acquisition for government infrastructure projects, as well as the RDC Caraga’s request for the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to review the quality and construction standards of electric posts to become a disaster and climate change resilient. RDC Caraga proposed the review of the guidelines used in the construction standards on electric posts. Triggered by the Post-Disaster and Needs Assessment (PDNA) Report on Typhoon Odette, the RDC Caraga prompted NEA to make the electric post-construction standards disaster resilient. Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Charito B. Plaza also provided updates and milestones on existing and proposed special economic zones in the country, highlighting those located in Mindanao. DG Plaza reported that there are already 40 ecozones operating in Mindanao, comprising 14 agro-industrial, 10 manufacturing, 10 IT Centers, and six IT parks. Moreover, there are 22 proclaimed ecozones that have yet to operate, involving eight manufacturing, seven IT Parks, three IT Centers, three agro-industrial, and one tourism. DG Plaza shared that PEZA will soon forge a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with DENR for the development of idle timberlands and mineral lands as agro-industrial and mineral processing ecozones, respectively. She mentioned that PEZA is now promoting a township model for an ecozone, where commercial and residential areas are integrated into its overall site development plan. – Shirley C. Torotoro