Samar Island Development Agenda (SIDA) pushed
Samar Island Consultative Workshop, Hotel San Francisco, Catbalogan City, Samar. A long conceived intervention plan has finally come to light. The National Economic Development Authority – Regional Office 8 (NEDA 8) through its director Atty. Bonifacio Uy conducted a consultative workshop to formulate the SIDA last May 10-11, 2018 in Catbalogan City, and Samar.
The SIDA main goal is to come-up with a strategic solution to a long issue of poverty in the third largest island of the Philipppines. The workshop is expected to be one of the many activities aimed at formulating a grand plan to once in for all graduate Samar Provinces out of poverty. According to Ms. Meylene C. Rosales, the Assistant Regional Director, Samar is naturally rich but artificially poor. It is rich because of its resources but is artificially poor due to unresolved causes.
The entire Samar Island Provinces (Samar, East Samar, and North Samar) has been viewed for so long as one of the causes why Eastern Visayas (EV) is one of the poorer regions in the country. Based on the latest poverty report (2015 data), Region 8 has poverty incidence of 30.7 making EV as the 3rd poorest next to Caraga and ARMM regions. In EV, Northern Samar, Western Samar, and Eastern Samar are the poorest with the poverty incidence of 47.9, 39.5 and 37.4 respectively. These numbers placed the three Samar Island Provinces as the 4th, 11th and 12th poorest provinces in the country.
The two-day workshop attended by the heads of offices and departments of different provinces. Regional agencies including State Universities and Colleges of Samar Island including Samar State University were also represented. The workshop proper was started by defining a distant future. It was followed with determining the current status, a reality check. It tried looking into the positive and the negative characteristics or profile of Samar Island in five major sectors; economic, social, development administration, infrastructure, environment and disaster risk and reduction management. The third part was identifying the near future, a five-year picture. The workshop was ended with determining the strategies to get to the targets by 2022. The data was raw and require further examination. Succeeding workshops to complete the agenda will be announced soon. The Regional Director is very hopeful that this time, Samar will succeed.
In the opening program, the Governor of Eastern Samar emphasized that their province has already gained significant improvement in its fight against poverty. Governor Marcelo Ferdinand A. Picardal said, as an engineer, he knows how to make the gains sustainable. He is very optimistic to reduce the poverty incidence to 25% from 37.4% in 2015. The 2015 survey was a huge leap from 55.4%, about 18 percentage points or 32% improvement. On the second day, the Governor Sharee Ann T. De Los Santos also shared her dream for the Province of Samar. She shared some of the gains of her government Spark Samar initiatives and the recent launching of the same in Metro Manila. Governor Jose L. Ong, Jr. was unable to attend the event.
The people in attendance shared their aspiration of the NEW (North, East, and West) Samar, aiming to have one thinking, one vision, one agenda.
Carrying the name of the province, Samar State University has taken the challenge to realize the aspiration of a progressive Samar Island. Its dream of graduating Samar Island from poverty has also influenced SSU in crafting its vision statement in 2014; A transformative university, committed to technology, innovation and service excellence. The desire to reduce poverty incidence by at least 5% is one of the strategic goals of SSU in its Five-Year Strategic Plan (2017-2021). To initiate the concerted efforts from all the provinces of Samar Island, SSU also conducted the National Conference on Poverty and Sustainable Development in 2017. This year, to continue the gains, an International Conference on Poverty Alleviation is set to be conducted by August this year. Samar State University is very hopeful that through the help of everyone, the dream to make Samar progressive is within reach.