Bacolod City – Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez, chair of the Regional Development Council 6, recently said that the fastest way to move forward while the proposed Negros Island Region bill is being deliberated by Congress, is the creation of Region 6A for Negros Occidental and Bacolod City, and Region 7A for Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
Benitez confirmed that various departments, particularly the Department of Budget and National Economic Development Authority, are pushing for the creation of two sub-regions, while the proposed NIR plus Siquijor is being discussed in the House of Representatives.
Its creation forces all national offices to put up their respective satellite offices in the two sub-regions, he said.
What we are discussing now, Benitez said “is the degree of autonomy of the sub-region.”
As far as RDC 6 is concerned, Benitez said “that is a win-win solution.” For Negros Occidental and Bacolod City, there is no need to cross to Iloilo in order to transact business with the regional offices, if they already have satellite offices, here”, he added.
All Negros Island solons, as well as Siquijor’s, have either authored or cosponsored similar bills creating the NIR, which was abolished during the administration of then President Rodrigo Duterte.
Benitez said he already discussed the DBM, NEDA proposals with Rep. Mercedes Alvarez (6th district, Negros Occ.).
While he has yet to get the sentiments of Negros solons pushing for NIR, Benitez said “I think this would be a good compromise to move forward.”
If it can be done, I think we can solve majority of our issues, the mayor said, adding that he was told by Rep. Alvarez that they will review the DBM and NEDA proposals.
If the congressmen will agree to it, I think it is just a matter of getting DBM to agree. After getting the approval of DBM and the Department of Interior and Local Government, then maybe the President will issue an executive order, Benitez said. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)