BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The proposal to create two sub-regions for Western and Central Visayas elicited questions from Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, although he initially described it as a “good development.”
When you say a sub-region, that means offices of different departments will be established here. If that is so, that’s good, because we don’t have to travel to Iloilo, which is the main reason we wanted a NIR (Negros Island Region). That alone is a big improvement, Lacson said.
The question is, will we have our own Regional Development Council. What will be the rank of these government personnel manning offices of departments here in Negros Occidental? He asked.
The Department of Budget and Management as well as the National Economic Development Authority were among the national agencies that proposed the creation of Region 6A for Negros Occidental and Region 7A for Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez, chair of the Regional Development Council of Western Visayas, earlier described the proposal as “the fastest way to move forward,” while Congress deliberates the NIR proposal.
Benitez said they are discussing the degree of autonomy of a sub-region.
By having these departments in Negros, we don’t have to depend anymore on regional offices in Iloilo, Lacson said.
My understanding is this is temporary, as our representatives (in Congress) proposal is to have an NIR, he added.
Just like what we had, we were already functioning as a region here in Negros Island, Lacson further said.
This is just a proposal. I think there should be more explanation. If we are a sub-region, how does it function, he stressed, adding that creation of NIR is the position that the province had taken before.
Lacson said he is hoping the proposal to create two sub-regions, if approved, is just a transition. “We prefer to have our own Negros Island Region,” he stressed.
Negros Occidental Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer, also the personal adviser of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Western Visayas, earlier said that he prefers to have a NIR, instead of a sub-region.
Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez filed a bill creating NIR, with the inclusion of Siquijor, while other Negros solons also filed similar bills for the revival of NIR only, which was abolished by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017.
While he has yet to get the sentiments of Negros solons pushing for NIR, Benitez said “I think this would be a good compromise to move forward.” If it can be done, I think we have solved majority of our issues, the mayor said.
Benitez said he was told by Sixth District Rep. Mercedes Alvarez said that they will review the sub-region proposal of DBM and NEDA.*