EV in 2017: Mother Earth calling
In what could be the most disastrous typhoon to hit the region-four years after Eastern Visayas was pummeled by super typhoon ‘Yolanda’, the world’s strongest typhoon to hit inland- ‘Urduja’ pummeled much of the region leaving a trail of destructions and loss of lives.
The region’s smallest province, Biliran, bore the brunt of Urduja’s fury when it barreled its way on December 16, causing several landslides that entombed 52 people, several of them children.
The storm resulted in the destruction of public properties in Biliran alone at P400 million.
The provinces of Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar also suffered devastations both in infrastructures and people killed due either to landslide or flooding incidents.
While several earthquakes shook the region, the July 6 incident was the most destructive.
The 5.6 magnitude tremor that hit Leyte resulted in the deaths of three people and destructions of roads and bridges as well as buildings, homes and public facilities like the Ormoc City Airport reaching to hundreds of millions of pesos.
The tremor was so strong that the region was without power supply for nearly two months, affecting major industries and businesses.
It was also in 2017 that all six governors of the region decided to belong to one common political party which happens to be the party of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Governors Leopoldo Dominico Petilla(Leyte), Gerry ‘Boy” Espina(Biliran), Christopher Yap(Southern Leyte), Sharee Ann Tan(Samar), Marcelo Ferdinand Picardal(Eastern Samar), and Jose Ong(Northern Samar) pledged their political loyalties to the President by jumping to PDP-Laban.
And save for Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, all the other congressmen of the region now consider themselves as members of the PDP-Laban.
All of them, to include mayors, have vowed to continue to support on the controversial anti-illegal drug campaign of the President.
After being devastated by supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’ in 2013, economic officials of the region has projected that the regional economy is now recovering.
In fact, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in the region had projected that Eastern Visayas economy would grow between 5.2 to 5.7 percent.
Tacloban City, the regional capital and main economic hub of Eastern Visayas, reported of new and big investments in 2017.
This year, the Robinsons Mall opened its second branch in Tacloban as it also soon to operate in the cities of Ormoc and Calbayog.
The tourism industry is also fast contributing to the regional economy as tourism officials eye an increase of about 20 percent from the current seven percent levels.
It was also during this year that the city government of Tacloban, under Mayor Cristina Romualdez, ‘took’ control of the Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD) from the supervision of the provincial government.
Romualdez issued appointment papers to five new board of directors of the LMWD, a move that right away questioned by the ‘ousted’ officials, to include its general manager.
Despite of the natural disasters that struck Eastern Visayas, leaders of the region are optimistic that the New Year will bring not only stability but further economic growth for Eastern Visayas, still considered as among the poorest regions in the country.
(JOEY A. GABIETA)