By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY — Key officials here mapped out a recovery plan for Western Visayas region as it gradually opens up its economy after the two-month lockdown due to the threat of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Together, we will revitalize our local economy, strengthen health capacities, and initiate more ways to increase our economic resiliency by developing policy directions and synergize programs for our fast economic recovery,” said Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, who hosted the region’s key officials on June 6.
Dubbed as Partnership for Region 6’s Recovery and Development, Treñas brought together Governors Florencio Miraflores of Aklan province, Rhodora Cadiao of Antique province, Esteban Evan Contreras II of Capiz province, Arthur Defensor Jr. of Iloilo province, Samuel Gumarin of Guimaras province, and Eugenio Jose Lacson of Negros Occidental province.
Former congressman Alfredo Benitez, who is a consultant of Lacson, presented the five main points that local governments must cooperate on to further jumpstart the economy.
These include facilitating free movement of people to enable labor mobility and promote domestic tourism; strengthening intra-regional market linkages and supply chains of local producers; boosting backbone information communications technology (ICT) infrastructure to support electronic governance; scaling-up production of high-demand products; and improving health system capacity primarily in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, who is a native of Iloilo, urged the Western Visayas Regional Development Council via a video conference call, to formally craft a plan for the region’s economic recovery under the new normal.