Bacolod City – Negros Occidental 6th District Rep. Mercedes Alvarez disclosed recently that the opposition of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo to the Negros Island Region will not impede its recreation.
At the end of the day, the approval of the bill is with members of Congress, said Alvarez, who attended the New Year’s party and birthday celebration of Abang Lingkod Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano at a hotel in Bacolod City on Tuesday night.
The NIR was first established through an executive order issued by the late President Benigno Aquino III in 2015. It was however dissolved by his successor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, in 2017.
However, the unification of two Negros provinces into one region is again slowly inching towards reality, as the House Committee on Local Government approved on Tuesday a substitute bill creating the NIR, that includes the island province of Siquijor.
The proposed NIR, which was co-authored by all Negros Island solons, would include the provinces of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Bacolod City, and all the cities, municipalities and barangays therein.
Alvarez, who co-chaired the committee Technical Working Group, disclosed that Siquijor Gov. Jake Vincent Villa and Siquijor lone Rep. Zaldy Villa have manifested before the TWG for the inclusion of their island province to NIR, prior to its approval by the committee.
Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo has signified opposition to the creation of the NIR, which proposes to include Siquijor, citing “cultural differences.”
Alvarez said the Local Government Committee has not received any written position paper from Degamo, despite sending communication to his office.
It would have been nice if he (Degamo) submitted his position paper during the committee hearing, she added.
Alvarez also stressed that the three Negros Oriental solons also co-authored the NIR bill.
They also represent the votes of those in the Oriental side, she stressed, apparently referring to the three Negros Oriental solons, Reps. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong, Manuel Sagarbarria and Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves.
So, we give importance to what they are saying, because they also represent the voice of the people in their respective districts, Alvarez further said.
Rep. Juliet Marie de Leon Ferrer (4th District, Negros Occidental), a co-author of the bill, explained that administrative regions are established to promote efficiency in government to better serve the people, as well as to promote social and economic development in the covered area.
The proposed NIR bill is also supported by five senators, including Senate president Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The NIR Technical Working Group, which will be headed by the Department of Interior and Local Government, with the Office of the Office of the President as among its members, will be organized, Alvarez said.
The purpose of TWG, according to the solon, is to create a road map towards the creation of NIR.
Alvarez explained that the initial budget for regional offices to be created will come from the existing funds of concerned government agencies. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)