On October 20, 2020, at 2:00 P.M., the Provincial Development Council (PDC) members convened to discuss matters relevant to the province’s development and its measures towards the containment of COVID-19 in the area. The said meeting was conducted through an online platform by the members of the executive body headed by Governor Francisco T. Matugas, members of the legislative body led by Vice-Governor Geed Gokiangke Jr., heads and representatives of the provincial government offices and national line agencies (NGAs), accredited non-governmental organizations, and the city and municipal mayors.

Two (2) newly installed regional directors of the Caraga Region graced the PDC meeting. Firstly, RD Priscilla R. Sonido, the Regional Director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), delivered an inspirational message. She highlighted the national government’s priority to take a shift from risk avoidance to risk management. According to RD Sonido, the government units must be ready to re-open the economy while still adhering to the health and safety standards. She also emphasized the need for the PDC members to consider programs, projects, and activities that will help the economy, health interventions, critical infrastructure, transportation, and power supply. 

On the other hand, RD Maria Nelia “King” Arina, Regional Director of the Department of Tourism (DOT), provided the rationale of the Transforming Communities Towards Resilient, Inclusive and Sustainable Tourism, or shortly, the TouRIST Program. The program is worth $300M of Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the World Bank to the Department of Tourism and has identified Siargao Island as one of the beneficiaries. RD Arina expressed the need for the endorsement of the PDC to the Regional Development Council (RDC) for the proposed projects under the TouRIST Program, which include the following:

  1. Development of Water Supply and Sanitation for the Island of Siargao
  2. Establishment of Hygiene Preparedness in Tourism Sites of Siargao Islands
  3. Establishment of Siargao Island Emergency Operation and Monitoring Center or the HEALS 911 Center
  4. Siargao Islands Integrated Solid Waste Management
  5. Tourist Sites Enhancement and Management

The Council members also approved the draft resolution for the Supplementary Annual Investment Plan No. 4 CY 2020 containing substantial PPAs for the province’s growth and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the PDC endorsement for the proposed projects of the TouRIST Program.

Dr. Arlene Felizarta, the Assistant Provincial Administrator for Health Concerns, also reported to the body some updates relative to the significant response of the province related to the COVID-19 pandemic. She disclosed that there are two (2) municipalities declared with local transmission, namely, the municipalities of Dapa and Socorro. For the laboratory concerns, Dr. Cheryl A. Gotinga, Medical Center Chief I of the Caraga Regional Hospital (CRH), informed the Council that the Genexepert laboratory of the CRH might start operating by the end of the month.

Moreover, Mr. Marco Joshuie Espina, Community Development Officer of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), also updated the body that the PRC’s Molecular Laboratory will be completed by October 30, 2020, and will be fully operational by the second week of November 2020. 

Governor Francisco T. Matugas gave his concluding statements with grateful messages to the two (2) newly installed Regional Directors, DOT – Central and Regional Personnel, Guests, and all members of the PDC.

Finally, at 4:00 in the afternoon, Governor Matugas adjourned the meeting.