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Dumaguete Diocese urges PBBM: Veto NIR bill

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The Diocese of Dumaguete has called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to veto Senate Bill No. 2507, which proposes the creation of the Negros Island Region, due to what it claims is the lack of a fair, just and truthful consultation.

In a letter to President Marcos Jr., Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes said the intention of the NIR bill “until now is unclear” to the general public. “It is with heavy heart that we must implore Your Excellency to consider vetoing it.”

Cortes explained that their plea is not born of mere dissent, but rather from a sense of duty to safeguard the future of Negros Oriental.

Regrettably, the passage of this bill has been marred by a lack of comprehensive information dissemination, and meaningful consultation with the diverse sectors and stakeholders of Negros Oriental, the bishop said.

As custodians of democracy, it is the people’s inherent right to be fully informed and actively engaged in decisions of such magnitude, for they shape the trajectory of our collective destiny, he stressed.

The three solons of Negros Oriental co authored the NIR bill in the House of Representatives, which is supported by Gov. Manuel “Chaco” Sagarbarria, eight Negros Occidental solons, including Abang Lingkod partylist Rep. Stephen Joseph Paduano, and Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, among others.

In his recent visit to Negros Occidental, President Marcos Jr. vowed to sign into law the Negros Island Region Act to enhance governance and growth.

Without such legislation, it would be difficult to bring government services to the people, the President added.

“We beseech Your Excellency to recognize the gravity of this situation and to allow us to engage in informed discourse regarding the merits and implications of NIR, rooted in empirical studies,” Cortes said,

The Bishop further claimed that the creation of NIR threatens to exacerbate existing inequalities, as Negros Oriental finds itself disadvantaged by its fewer districts and cities, compared to Negros Occidental.

This asymmetry in representation and resource allocation, he added, could perpetuate systemic injustices, further marginalizing vulnerable communities, Cortes further said.

Citing also a 2014 survey conducted by the Silliman University, it underscores the prevalent lack of awareness and mixed sentiments regarding the proposed merger, he also said, adding that the findings revealed that 43.34 percent of the respondents opposed the NIR initiative, and those who supported it are even lesser in number of 25.83 percent, while 30.83 percent are the undecided ones.

This palpable apprehension underscores the imperative for a thorough deliberation and inclusive decision making processes, Cortes added.

Additionally, we raise the perplexing inclusion of Siquijor province in the NIR, despite its distinct identity, language, and geographical separation from Negros. The omission of proper consultation with the people of Siquijor further compounds the legitimacy of this endeavor, the bishop also said, adding that the expressed sentiment was shared by all priests in the entire island of Siquijor.

Siquijor Gov. Jake Vincent Villa and Rep. Zaldy Villa have earlier expressed support to the NIR.*


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May 2024

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