CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY- Northern Mindanao is showing signs of socioeconomic recovery after nearly two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, said NEDA-X Regional Director Mylah Faye Aurora B. Cariño, CESO III, during the 2nd Semester 2021 Northern Mindanao Socioeconomic Media Forum, 9 December 2021, at SM City, Masterson Avenue, Upper Balulang, Cagayan de Oro City and via Zoom with the theme “Getting the NorMin Economy Vaxx to Normal.”

“The prospects are encouraging in 2021 that will allow us to recover in 2022 to pre-pandemic levels. With the continued safe reopening of the economy with all safeguards, we will see more businesses, jobs, and incomes restored,” shared Director Cariño, who also serves as the Chairperson of the Northern Mindanao Task Force for COVID-19 Recovery Cluster. She also presented the socioeconomic situation of the region amid COVID-19.

On business and investments

Monitoring the adverse impact of the pandemic on establishments, the DOLE-X reported as of 30 November 2021 that 147 firms have permanently closed, 2,050 have temporarily closed, 3,258 implemented flexible working arrangements and 836 firms implemented retrenchment/reduction of workers while a total of 162,562 workers were affected.

MSMEs, which make up majority of Region X’s establishments, were the most distraught. There were 5,844 affected firms, which constitute 15.7 percent of the total 37,211 MSMEs registered in 2019, displacing about 16.3 percent of the total 995,745 workers in the same period.

Despite the closure of firms and retrenchment of workers, new businesses/investments were registered based on the report from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) in the region as of second quarter 2021. The increase in economic activities through business name registrations and investments generated about 35,000 new jobs within the same period.

The CDA also saw an increase in the number of registered cooperatives by 6.81 percent, from 1,528 cooperatives in 2020 to 1,632 cooperatives in 2021. Paid-up capital also increased by 11.85 percent, from PhP13.9 billion in 2020 to PhP15.5 billion in 2021.

Regional recovery efforts and ways forward

Director Cariño also laid out strategies and ways forward to socioeconomic recovery. She presented the major accomplishments of the Northern Mindanao Task Force for COVID-19 Recovery Cluster from April to December 2021, highlighting the number of Safety Seal Certifications awarded (320 establishments), the PhP110 million-worth of loans approved for 700 MSMEs under the DTI-SB Corp’s Financing Assistance to Restart MSMEs Operation (Bayanihan CARES), re-tooling of affected workers, equipping public health facilities and personnel with adequate capacities and resources, opening of schools, upscaling of implementation of major infrastructure projects, and providing focused support services to the most vulnerable sectors, among others.

Director Cariño also noted the increase in economic activities through business name registrations and investments: 25,000 new business name registrations, 1,000 newly registered corporations/partnerships, 1,500 operational cooperatives, PhP5 billion investments, and 35,000 jobs generated from April 2021 to date.

“Given further relaxation of restrictions, improvement in our healthcare system capacity and the acceleration of vaccination, we will keep our economy on the right track towards full recovery,” Director Cariño averred, adding that our economy will continue to sustain its growth in 2022 with an estimated forecast of 7.3 percent GDP growth, which is within the government’s 7 to 9 percent target for said year.

In said media forum, other sector experts also highlighted on other economic drivers and initiatives seen as catalytic and imperative to move the region forward.

Dr. David A. Mendoza, Medical Officer V of the Department of Health Center for Health Development – Northern Mindanao, is positive that the region will enjoy a merry Christmas owing to the significant decrease in infection rates, as he discussed updates on the COVID-19 situation and vaccination program rollout. Dr. Mendoza said that the region is already at 44 percent herd immunity coverage as of 8 December 2021. He also said that this accomplishment is a reminder that COVID-19 can be suppressed and controlled with proven and sustained public health measures.

Atty. Gina Luna Zayas-Sabio, Regional Election Attorney of the Commission on Elections –Regional Office X, presented updates on the preparations for the 2022 National Elections, particularly on the implementation of health protocols to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 disease. She said that the campaign period for the national posts will start on 8 February 2022, and for local posts on 25 March 2022. The COMELEC-X limits the total number of voters per clustered precinct to 800, while voting time is from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The media forum was held in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency – Region X (PIA-X). It was attended both onsite and virtually by members of the Regional Communications and Advocacy Committee of the Northern Mindanao Regional Development Council with Regional Director Franklin P. Gumapon of PIA-X as Chairperson, the Regional Association of Government Communicators in Region X, and Region X media partners. It was broadcast live on social media.

NEDA-X Regional Director Mylah Faye Aurora B. Cariño, CESO III addressing questions during the Open Forum of the 2nd Semester 2021 Northern Mindanao Socioeconomic Media Forum, 9 December 2021. With her as resource speakers are Dr. David A. Mendoza, Medical Officer V of the Department of Health Center for Health Development –
Northern Mindanao; and Atty. Gina Luna Zayas-Sabio, Regional Election Attorney of the Commission on Elections –Regional Office X.