The Cagayan Valley Sub-Committee on Migration and Development (SCMD) met on September 1 via video conferencing to tackle migration issues in the region amid COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cagayan Valley Regional Recovery Program (CVRRP) was presented. The RRP lays out the policies, programs, and projects to mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic, restore consumer and business confidence, and enable the region to adapt to the new normal state of activities.

SCMD Chair and Regional Director (RD) Dionisio C. Ledres, Jr. of the NEDA Regional office in Cagayan Valley (NROII)  said that the interventions identified in the CVRRP are crucial for the socio-economic recovery of the region.  He also emphasized the need to prepare for the impending return of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and also of individuals locally stranded from urban areas especially Manila. This is related with the government’s Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program.

Around 7,000 OFWs have returned to the region through the Uwian Program according to RD Luz Tumaliuan of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). She informed that these OFWs were assisted with cash aid amounting to PHP10,000.00 each under the “DOLE-AKAP for OFWs” Program.

Also discussed was the migration issues in the upland areas. Forester Robert Rivera of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that DENR is set to conduct the Survey and Registration of Protected Area Occupants (SRPAO) to ascertain the number of migrants in protected areas. He stated that the SRPAO will determine the tenure status of occupants, wherein only tenured occupants or those who were in the area five years before the effectivity of RA 11038 will be allowed to stay and all others will be resettled outside the protected areas.

In relation to this, Mayor Bernard Faustino Dy of Cauayan City, Isabela shared how the city government is addressing informal settlers in the city. He said that the city government has acquired lots for use as resettlement areas in barangays San Pablo, San Fermin, and Tagaran. Aside from housing units, livelihood assistance was also provided to the beneficiaries. The two newly acquired lots in barangays Nungnungan 1 and Labinab will also be developed for this purpose, he added.

The meeting ended with the approval of two research proposals presented by Regional Director Herita Macarubbo of the Commission on Population and Development, namely, “Profile and Perceived Socioeconomic Needs of Repatriated OFWs and Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program Beneficiaries” and “Assessment of the Readiness of Local Government Units in Responding to the Socioeconomic Needs of Returning OFWs and Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program Beneficiaries.” The conduct of these research studies will help the region in mapping out specific interventions for the returning OFWs and local individuals. #NEDARO2-PMED