• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The proposed creation of Negros Island Region got a new twist, as Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo pushed for the addition of another province under the new region.
This was confirmed by Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, after a closed door meeting with Degamo, yesterday in Dumaguete City.
Lacson said that Gov. Degamo has “put on the table, the idea of creating the new region with four provinces.”
The counter proposal of Degamo, according to Lacson, is to create a new province that will include the “Bisaya” speaking towns and cities of Negros Occidental, composed of the Negros Occidental cities of Sagay, Escalante, and San Carlos, as well as Toboso, all in Negros Occidental, along with Vallehermoso in Negros Oriental.
“Bisaya” refers to the Cebuano dialect which is spoken in areas covered by Sagay City to San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.
That would level the playing field, in terms of representation at the Regional Development Council, Degamo said.
At present, the proposed NIR bill is composed of the provinces of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.
The difference in dialect spoken by the two Negros provinces has been a major basis of Degamo in opposing the NIR, which has already been approved by respective House and Senate committees on Local Government.
Degamo has repeatedly pointed out that the creation of NIR will put Negros Oriental at a disadvantage, as it would only have three districts compared to Negros Occidental, which has seven.
He also said that Negros Oriental has only six cities, compared to Negros Occidental which has 11.
That would also mean there will be no equal share in resources and income, apart from the language barrier, Degamo added.
Lacson said he respects the decision of Degamo to oppose NIR, adding that he was hopeful that once these concerns have been ironed out, “perhaps he might reverse his decision.”
“We also came up with some possibilities that may somehow convince him,” he added.
“What is important is that we will continue to keep our lines open and this will not be the last time that we will sit down and talk and maybe next time, I will be in a better position to answer the issues he has raised,” the Negros Occidental governor added.* with PNA reports