BACOLOD CITY – Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson welcomed on Wednesday the bill filed by Negrense lawmakers led by Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez for the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR).
“I’m glad they did file a bill. It’s very encouraging,” Lacson said in an interview with Capitol reporters.
On Tuesday, Benitez said that together with eight other representatives from Negros Island, he filed House Bill 10534 that seeks to create the NIR “for greater economic coordination and more efficient delivery of public services to promote sustainable and inclusive economic development in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental”.
The proposed law was also signed by six other Negros Occidental representatives, including Greg Gasataya of the Lone District of Bacolod; Gerardo Valmayor Jr., first district; Leo Rafael Cueva, second district; Juliet Ferrer, fourth district; Ma. Lourdes Arroyo, fifth district; and Stephen Paduano, Abang Lingkod party-list as well as two from Negros Oriental, including Jocelyn Limkaichong, first district, and Arnolfo Teves Jr., third district.
“Consolidating the two Negros provinces in one administrative region will ensure greater economic coordination and more efficient delivery of public services that will promote sustainable and inclusive economic development,” Benitez said.
Last November 17, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also filed Senate Bill 2453, or the NIR Act, which seeks to bring together Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Bacolod City, and establishing these as a single administrative region called the Negros Island Administrative Region.
The NIR was formed on May 29, 2015, after then-President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order (EO) 183 that separated Negros Occidental from Western Visayas and Negros Oriental from Central Visayas.
On Aug. 7, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed EO 38 abolishing the NIR, stressing there is a need to ensure that priority government programs and projects are sufficiently funded.
“The establishment of regional offices of departments and agencies in the NIR requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus competing with government priority programs and projects funding,” Duterte added in EO 38.
Currently, Negros Occidental belongs to Western Visayas or Region 6, along with Iloilo City, Iloilo Province, Antique, Aklan, Capiz, and Guimaras while Negros Oriental is under Central Visayas or Region 7, with Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Cebu Province, Bohol, and Siquijor. (PNA)