Swift passage of EVDA bill sought

February 17, 2020

HOUSE leaders have sought the swift passage into law of a measure seeking to create the Eastern Visayas Development Authority (EVDA) to spearhead investment promotion and implement economic development strategies in Region VIII.

Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez and husband, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, filed House Bill 1155 or an Act Creating the EVDA, Defining its Powers and Functions, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes.

“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,” the Romualdez couple said, adding that the proposal will serve as proof of their commitment to empower the local government units  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,” they said.

There is a need for the people of Eastern Visayas to “build our confidence in the future,” according to them.

They cited that Eastern Visayas is very important to the country’s economy being located at the very heart of the Philippines, with the islands of Samar and Leyte serving as island bridges between the country’s northern island of Luzon and the southern region of Mindanao.

“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. Its coconut, abaca, and other agricultural produce have contributed toward increasing the national economic supply. But in spite of its immense potentials and vast resources, Eastern Visayas remains one of the poorest regions in the country today,” the proposal said.

In 2013, typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), one of the strongest typhoons  recorded in human history, flattened parts of Eastern Visayas, leaving behind a trail of devastation that has tragically resulted in loss of lives, livelihood, and property.

“Even before Typhoon Haiyan struck, the incidence of poverty has already been worsening. While the nation’s overall economic situation has been improving on the average, poverty in the region worsened from 2006 to 2012. In 2014, poverty incidence was at 54.9 percent; more than half of the region’s population of 4.10 million is now extremely poor and unable to earn the minimum amount necessary to address their basic needs,” the Romualdez couple said.

“The recent typhoon has aggravated this already deplorable situation, with the poor becoming desperately poorer. Following the recent latest Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted in 2015, four of the six provinces in Eastern Visayas are among the country’s top 20 poorest provinces.  Leyte ranked 17, at 46.7% poverty incidence; Western Samar ranked 14th, at 49.5%; Eastern Samar ranked 11th, at 50%; and Northern Samar 4th, at 61.6%,” they added.