BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, who authored House Bill 1446 that seeks to create Region VI-B, yesterday said that there is no “real expectation of resistance” from other provincial heads in Iloilo and Cebu, as far as the establishment of the new region is concerned.
The only place that there could be any kind of resistance is from the RDCs (Regional Development Councils), Benitez said. But even that, we will be able to manage, he added.
The proposed revival of the Negros Island Region now includes the island province of Siquijor, which is part of Region 7.
Benitez said it was Gov. Jake Vincent Villa who requested for the inclusion of Siquijor in the new region, while Rep. Zaldy “Jecoy” Villa also co-authored the creation of Region VI-B.
The biggest obstacle and hurdle for the NIR is the budgetary question, he admitted.
“It is about how you face the implementation over time,” Benitez said.
Let us wait and see, what Congress will do, “when DBM (Department of Budget and Management complains it has no money.” “They have a bi- annual planning. After that, depending on how you do the phasing of the implementation of the NIR. I think the budget issue ought to be rationally addressed,” he added
However, Benitez said he believes that the real issue is how to name the new NIR, since Siquijor already included.
The technical group of the House committee tackling the proposed NIR is now waiting the policy papers for submission from the three governors of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor, the solon said.
The expanded NIR bill in the House of Representatives was also co-authored by Abang Lingkod Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod), Gerardo Valmayor Jr. (Neg. Occ., 1st District), Emilio Bernardino Yulo (Neg. Occ., 5th District), Mercedes Alvarez (Neg. Occ., 6th District), Greg Gasataya (Bacolod), Jocelyn Sy-Limkaichong (Neg. Or., 1st District), Manuel Sagarbarria (Neg. Or., 2nd District) and Arnolfo Teves Jr. (Neg. Or., 3rd District).
Rep. Alfredo Marañon III (Neg. Occ., 2nd District) and Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer (Neg. Occ., 4th District) filed separate bills seeking the creation of the NIR composed of Negros Occidental and Oriental.
In 2017, the expanded NIR bill, which was created through an executive order by the late President Benigno Aquino III, was revoked by his successor, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who cited budgetary constraints.*