Around 200 planners from the local government units (LGUs), agencies, and academe gathered for this year’s CALABARZON Forum for Local Planners held on September 22 to 23, 2020. The forum, which was conducted via videoconference, focused on the government’s response to current challenges on public health and disasters.

Opening the forum, NEDA Regional Director Luis G. Banua emphasized the vital role of local planners in the alignment and proper execution of plans, programs, and projects to address pressing issues on controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, and on translating the increase of Internal Revenue Allotment of LGUs to better public services.

In her keynote message, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon underscored the need to address uncertainties of households and business during the pandemic by providing the right information, mitigating losses during lockdowns, and preparing for the “new normal”.

Undersecretary Edillon also shared the Recharge PH initiative of the government which aims to achieve a healthy and resilient Philippines. To achieve this goal, some of the identified interventions include the expansion of testing and contact tracing, and resumption of work and business operations. To maintain focus on the prevention of spread of COVID-19, the priorities are on (1) health system improvement, (2) food security, (3) learning continuity, (4) digital transformation, and (5) ecological integrity. She ended her presentation with a call to local planners to prepare and implement local plans and programs that will contribute to achieve the Filipino vision of a Matatag, Maginhawa at Panatag na Buhay in 2040.

In the second day of the forum, NEDA Undersecretary Mercedita A. Sombilla presented the salient features of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program. She clarified that the BP2 program is a regional development program that aims to improve the well-being and quality of life of people in both urban and rural areas. She also emphasized the important role of LGUs and encouraged active local participation in the design and implementation of the program.

Other topics discussed in the 2-day online forum were the Rehabilitation and Recovery Planning Guide, Updated CALABARZON Regional Physical Framework Plan 2017-2046, policy updates and status on land conversion and reclassification, and technical assistance for the preparation of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Comprehensive Development Plan.

The CALABARZON Forum for Local Planners is an annual activity of the CALABARZON Regional Development Council spearheaded by NEDA Region IV-A and the League of Local Development Planning Coordinators, Inc. The forum is conducted to provide a venue to discuss recent national plans, programs, and policies that can guide local development planning.

Donna Riza R. Mercado, NEDA Region IV-A | September 25, 2020