• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Elated by the Negros Island Region bill approval on its second reading by the House of Representatives, Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday said that it would be a nice “Christmas gift” if it could be passed, and signed into law this year.
“It looks like it’s gonna happen,” Lacson said, as he congratulated all the district representatives of Negros Island, for their efforts to see to it that the new region will come to fruition.
“If it passes the second reading, it is automatic for third and final reading. Now, we have to wait for the Senate version to happen,” he added, noting that many senators made it a campaign promise to support the new region in the Visayas during the campaign period last May.
The bill proposing a new Visayas region, authored by all Negros Island solons, includes the provinces of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
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.
The NIR bill in the Senate was jointly sponsored by Senate president Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, and Senators JV Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, Bong Revilla, and Lito Lapid.
Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on Local Government, said there is a strong clamor for NIR, the establishment of which will fast track the delivery and bring closer, national government services to the people.
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 and 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.
As to the call for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to issue an executive order creating NIR, pending deliberations by Congress, Lacson said “if they can see to it, that it will happen this year, we can already wait.”
After it was approved on second reading by the Lower House, Lacson also said that he intends to call Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, who is opposed to the creation of NIR, to hear his sentiments.*