By Ben Rosario
The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill proposing to create the Eastern Visayas Development Authority to spur economic development in the region.
Business and local government leaders welcomed the decision of the Lower House to prioritize the measure which will help the region rebound from a number of recent natural calamities.
Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and Tingog Parytlist Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez jointly filed the bill.
Sponsored on the floor by Paranaque City Rep. Eric Olivarez, HB 6869 was among the priority measures passed on second reading during a session that lasted seven hours.
“With EVDA, we can ensure that our investment priorities and promotion strategies are in sync with our development needs and our regional strengths such as our geographical location, our skilled human resources, and our immense tourism potentials,” said the Romualdezes.
They said the proposal will also serve as proof of their commitment to empower the local government units (LGUs) in the Eastern Visayas.
“For example, a foreign investor interested in investing in Eastern Visayas need not go to all the local government units in the regions or to a disinterested national government agency. He doesn’t even have to be in Tacloban. But through EVDA, one can get the right and concise information and support that he or she needs,” the couple explained.
Eastern Visayas, comprised of the islands of Samar, Leyte and Biliran is among the country’s regions that are often visited by typhoons. Some of the provinces were previously included among the poorest in the country.
The Romualdez couple said that with the creation of EVDA, they expect the region to rebound from the adverse economic impact of the natural calamities.
“One of the most ecologically diverse regions of the country, the three islands of Samar, Leyte, and Biliran are blessed with land, mineral, energy, and marine resources, making it favorable for agricultural, fishery, and industrial potentials. Its geothermal resources have also been tapped, producing electricity for the national power grid,” they explained.
“But in spite of its immense potentials and vast resources, Eastern Visayas remains one of the poorest regions in the country today,” the two solons lamented.
By providing an integrated and coordinated direction to the agricultural, industrial, economic and social development, the Romualdezes said.
They added: “EDA will serve as the lead agency tasked to steer the sound and balanced industrial, economic and social growth of Eastern Visayas and carry on with the speedy rehabilitation in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan.