BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The filing of House and Senate bills to restore Negros Island Region, which was abolished in 2017, was described yesterday as “very encouraging” by Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson.
A staunch advocate of NIR, Lacson, who was elated by the filing of such in Congress, said he is looking forward for a more accommodating administration next year to “support such measures”.
Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez and eight other Negros Island solons filed House Bill 10534, that aims to create Negros Island Region for greater economic coordination and more efficient delivery of public services to promote sustainable and inclusive economic development in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.
This was after Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also sponsored a Senate bill that will create NIR.
Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo and Partido Reporma presidential bet Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson have aired their support to the restoration of NIR during their recent visits to Negros Occidental.
“Without a doubt majority, if not all Negrenses, would like to have NIR. My stand does not change. We hope the next administration will consider again reviving the Negros Island Region, this time supported by Law so that it would be allocated with budget,” Lacson said.
While it may not likely to approve in this present Congress, he said it would likely to happen in the next Congress, adding that it needs to be refiled.
Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental currently belong to two different administrative regions – Region VI and VII, respectively. The provinces’ considerable distance from their regional centers (Iloilo, for Occidental; Cebu, for Oriental) has long made government services largely inaccessible to many Negrenses.
The NIR which was created through an Executive Order by the late President Benigno Simeon Aquino was abolished by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. The full implementation of the NIR was delayed due to budgetary constraints.*