BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Siquijor island province was included in the proposed Negros Island Region approved by the Technical Working Group of the House Committee on Local Government, during its meeting on December 13, disclosed 5th District Rep. Emilio “Dino” Yulo III yesterday.
Yulo, who co-authored the NIR bill, disclosed that the TWG will convene again, together with Siquijor officials, for the final report, in preparations for the formulation of the substitution bill to be presented to the plenary.
The TWG was tasked by the committee chaired by Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian to consolidate all the bills pushing for the creation of NIR, with Negros Occidental 6th District Mercedes Alvarez as co-chairperson.
Yulo said the entry of Siquijor into the proposed NIR was manifested by Siquijor Lone District Rep. Zaldy Villa, by way of a motion, during the TWG meeting, which was approved.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and four other senators also co-authored a bill for the establishment of the NIR, which was also recently approved by the Senate committee on Local Government.
Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, has, however, expressed opposition to the creation of the NIR during a recent meeting of the Regional Development Council 7, citing cultural differences, among others.
Why fix already fixed things, Degamo asked, stressing that the Negros Oriental economy in Region 7 is stable.
We will gamble if we go to Region 18, he further said.
On the other hand, three Negros Oriental solons have joined their counterparts in Negros Occidental in pushing for the creation of NIR, by filing HB 1446 to create a new region in Visayas.
Negros Occidental 3rd district Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez said that reunifying the two Negros provinces under one region is necessary for economic growth, to redound to the benefit of the people through the close economic coordination of the two provinces.
Benitez added that the inclusion of Siqujor, which is supported by its governor, Jake Vincent Villa, is logical and practical due to its proximity and cultural similarities.
The dream of consolidating the two Negros provinces into one administrative region continues to live on. This is a Negrense aspiration deeply grounded in our histories, he further said.
Yulo said they respect the views of Gov. Degamo, or whatever concerns he has. “We would like to reach out to him, so that we will know his concerns,” the solon said, adding the TWG has yet to receive a formal notice from Degamo on his stand on NIR, aside from the public statement he made during the RDC 7 meeting.
Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson confirmed yesterday said that he is planning to meet with Gov. Degamo after the holidays, either on the first or second week of next month.*