BACOLOD CITY–Nine Negros island representatives filed House Bill No. 10534, which seeks to create the Negros Island Region (NIR), grouping Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental into one region, on Tuesday, November 23.
Rep. Francisco Benitez (3rd district, Negros Occidental), author of the bill, said that the proposed NIR will create greater economic coordination and more efficient delivery of public services between the two adjacent provinces as well as promote sustainable and inclusive economic development.
The other congressmen who signed the bill were Reps. Gerardo Valmayor (1st district), Leo Rafael Cueva (2nd district), Juliet Marie Ferrer (4th district), Ma. Lourdes Arroyo (5th district), Greg Gasataya (Bacolod City), and Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod).
Affixing their signatures as co-authors were Negros Oriental Reps. Jocelyn Limkaichong (1st district) and Arnolfo Teves Jr. (3rs district).
Benitez said they were unable to reach Rep. Genaro Alvarez (Negros Occidental, 6th district) and Rep. Manuel Sagabarria (Negros Oriental, 2nd district) before the filing of the bill.
In his explanatory note, Benitez said the dream of consolidating the two provinces into one administrative region continues to live on as “an inspiration that is deeply grounded in their histories”.
In May 2015, former President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order 183 creating the NIR, but in August 2017 President Rodrigo Duterte dissolved it, citing lack of funding.
Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri filed Senate Bill 22453 that seeks to establish the Negros Island Administrative Region to be known as Region XVII.
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson is hoping that the next administration will give a nod to reviving the NIR.
“Without a doubt, the majority of, if not all, Negrenses would like to have the NIR. My stand does not change. We hope the next administration will consider reviving the Negros Island Region, this time supported by law so that it would be allocated a budget,” he said.
Some political leaders, including Vice President Leni Robredo, back the revival of the NIR. In fact, some regional offices have already been put up both in Bacolod City in Negros Occidental and Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental.
After a string of failed initiatives by previous political leaders, the late Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. led the last successful NIR initiative. (Eugene Y. Adiong/iNews-Bacolod/Negros Bureau)