• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
A bill pushing for the establishment the Negros Island Region yesterday hurdled its second reading at the House of Representatives, Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez (3rd district, Negros Occidental), announced last night.
“Let’s continue to support this bill, and hope for its final approval,” Benitez said in a statement he issued.
The bill proposing a new Visayas region, authored by all Negros Island solons, includes the provinces of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
The NIR bill is part of an omnibus motion to approve several local bills in the calendar of business, Benitez said.
Now known as House Bill 7355, the NIR bill was co-sponsored by numerous other members of the House of Representatives, including Siqujor Rep. Zaldy Villa and Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Joseph Paduano.
As stipulated in HB 7355, a Negros Island Region technical working group will be constituted, to be composed of representatives from the Office of the President, Departments of Budget, Interior and Local Government, Office of the Governor of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor, and all the elected representatives of Negros Island, as well as Siquijor.
The TWG will formulate strategic plans to put in place the institutional arrangements for NIR, recommend to the Office of the President the preferred location of the regional center, arrange the requirements for the organizational development, staffing, and budgeting of regional line and regulatory agencies, as well as the imperatives for development planning and investment programming.
It also states that the DILG will serve as the NIR secretariat, while all departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, including government owned controlled corporations, and government financial institutions, have been ordered to extend full assistance to the NIR TWG, in support of its functions and activities.*