By Johnny C. Nunez
LEGAZPI CITY, (PNA) — In a show of full confidence and regional political unity, members of the Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) unanimously reelected Albay Gov. Joey Salceda for a third term as their chairman last week during a full council meeting at the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) regional office here.
Salceda’s reelection gives him the longest tenure on record in the Bicol RDC history. It provides continuity to mostly hallmark development programs he had initiated and designed to transform the Bicol region from a backwater area to a growing global destination in trade and tourism.
The RDC is the highest policy-making and planning body in the regions, serving as the counterpart of the NEDA Board at the sub-national level. It coordinates and sets the direction of all economic and social development efforts in the regions. It formulates comprehensive regional and inter-provincial development and investment priorities, and supervises their monitoring and implementation.
Among Salceda’s landmark projects as Bicol RDC chair are the P3.4 billion Southern Luzon International Airport (SLIA) in Daraga, Albay scheduled to be completed in 2015, the Guicadale (Guinobatan-Camalig-Daraga-Legazpi) economic platform which supports the SLIA; the P2 billion all weather flood control project of Legazpi City, the regional center; and the P665 million Albay West Coast Road.
The SLIA will open up Bicol to international trade and travel; the Guicadale economic platform supports the SLIA. The two programs also complements the Almasor (Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon) Tourism Alliance, which Salceda convened and which bundles together the vast tourism wealth of the three southernmost Bicol provinces into a single stop travel destination.
Almasor or “Soul of the South” is internationally acclaimed as a growing giant. Its concept is admittedly a fresh marketing idea in travel and tourism.
The governor said his RDC chair reelection provides continuity to the programs he had started. He foresees more opportunities for other endeavors within the next three years; and, onwards to the “Bicol Century 2100,” the RDC’s new development banner theme.
He thanked his colleagues and “co-workers in government, the Governors, Mayors, members of the Regional Directors’ Association, private sector representatives and co-advocates in development” for giving him a fresh mandate to lead the region towards development.
A noted economist and former economic adviser to Philippine Presidents, Salceda is also RDC cluster chair for Luzon and oversees the development thrusts of 38 provinces and 67 cities. He also presides as national president of the 17 RDC chairs in the country. As such, he sits at the NEDA board which plans and steers the country’s development direction.