Bacolod City – A proposal to create Negros Island Region, which had the support of all Negros Island solons and Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, hit a snag after Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo expressed opposition to it.
“We’ll that’s not a good news,” was the reply of Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, when asked his comment on opposition of Degamo to the proposed establishment of NIR, which includes Negros Oriental and Siqujior.
During the 4th Regional Development Council-Central Visayas (RDC-7) Full Council Meeting held recently, Degamo, who attended the meeting virtually, was quoted as saying that he sees “no problem with Negros Oriental continuing to be part of Central Visayas region.”
He further said that Negros Oriental would rather prefer to be with Cebuano-speaking people of Bohol, Cebu and Siquijor provinces, stressing that it should not be done in a hastily manner because there are a lot of issues to resolve, such as cultural differences, among others.
Asked if the provincial government of Negros Occidental will reach out to Degamo to convince him to support NIR, similar to the act of the late Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., Lacson said “we can do that, and find out what changed his mind.”
Lacson said that the Senate Committee on Local Government led by Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito has approved several bills seeking the establishment of the NIR.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate deputy majority leader Juan Victor Ejercito, Senators Bong Revilla, Sherwin Gatchalian and Lito Lapid have sponsored separate bills creating the NIR.
Ejercito, who chairs the Senate committee on Local Government and presided over the committee hearing, said there is a strong clamor for NIR as the establishment of which will fast track the delivery and bring national government services closer to the people.
While rightsizing is a priority of the current administration, Ejercito, whose mother hails from Bacolod City, said these bills are necessary for boosting the efficiency of service delivery in the area and providing convenience for the region’s residents.
Zubiri, whose father hails from Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, said the Siquijor governor also expressed their intention to join the new region.
“We will just support their stand,” Lacson said.
Negros Occidental Sixth District Rep. Mercedes Alvarez, who co-chairs the Technical Working Group, disclosed that they were tasked by the House Local Government Committee to consolidate all the proposed NIR bills, co-authored by all six congressmen of Negros Occidental and three solons of Negros Oriental, as well as Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Joseph Paduano.
As to the opposition of Degamo to the proposed NIR, Alvarez said they were not yet aware of it, although she confirmed that the committee already sent a request for a position paper from the Negros Oriental provincial government twice, in October and November, and they are yet to receive a reply.
Alvarez said the reported opposition of Degamo to NIR will be initially discussed among TWG members.
In his sponsored NIR bill, co-authored by majority of Negros Island solons, Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez included Siquijor in the creation of new island region.
Zubiri earlier stressed that there is growing clamor for the establishment of the NIR since residents of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental still have to travel to either Iloilo or Cebu to transact with the regional offices of several national government agencies.
“It’s the ease of doing business for government transactions. Kung cost lang, nagawa na (If cost is the concern, it’s done). May buildings na po. I don’t think it’s going to cost us more to revive the NIR, because it has been done for several years,” the Senate President said. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)