SIPPAD explores possible creation of Samar Region

Borongan City, Eastern Samar, Philippines – The Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPAD) a convention of various sectors in Samar, is exploring possibilities of creating a Samar Island as a separate region taking inspiration from the newly declared Negros Region as tackled during the 39th SIPPAD Assembly conducted in this city recently. 

SILG Mel Senen Sarmento speaks before the 31st SIPPAD conducted at the Prov'l Multipurpose Gym, Capitol Site, Borongan City on November 6, 2015
Calbayog Bishop Isabelo Abarquez, Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez, and Catarman Bishop Emmanuel Trance, lead convenors of the assembly, chorused that it is high time for the three provinces of Samar make a move and be united to create an administrative region so as to push a faster economic development in the area. 

Samar Island is constituted of three provinces namely Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and (Western) Samar and is part of the Samar-Leyte Region or officially called Region VIII (Eastern Visayas). The other provinces that complete the region are Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran, all located in Leyte Island. 

Mayor Emiliana Villacarillo of Dolores town said that she feels that we are lagging behind in terms of development compared to Leyte. “I feel that that the bulk of funds are being poured out to Leyte,” she said. She even cited that the Regional Development Council (RDC) has few seats for Samar delegation. 

Congressman Ben Evardone of the Lone District of Eastern Samar said that he is in agreement to the laments of Mayor Villacarillo. “I agree that we are somewhat considered as second class citizens as compared to Leyte,” Evardone stressed. To support his view, the lawmaker mentioned that in the preparation of the 2016 national budget, he was surprised to know upon thorough review that out of the more than P3 billion proposed budget for irrigation in Region VIII, only P9 million was allocated for Eastern Samar. “I protested this to Sec. Francis Pangilinan and President (Benigno Aquino III),” he said. “I fully support the move of SIPPAD for One Island, One Samar, One Region,” Evardone reiterated. 

Meylene Rosales, NEDA Supervising EDS/OIC Chief of Policy Formulation and Planning Division and resource person to the forum, belied claims of Mayor Villacarillo that Samar contingents have fewer seats in the RDC than their Leyte counterparts. “There are sufficient seats for Samar members in the RDC,” she said. NEDA serves as the secretariat to RDC. RDC is the recommendatory council of all development programs in the region for national government funding. 

Rosales, during her presentation, said that she will not say yes or no to the proposal of SIPPAD. “You will decide on your own whether to push for a separate region or not,” she said. “You know your place better and you know what’s best for you,” she continued. NEDA presented the needed parameters in creating a region. She also showed the economic status and potentials in the island. 

A resolution was passed by SIPPAD urging President Aquino to create Samar Island as a separate region through Executive Order. The assembly was also attended by Secretary Mel Senen Sarmento of Department of Interior and Local Government. Sarmento was the congressional representative of the 1st District of Samar prior to his stint at DILG.
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