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NegOr business community reiterates NIR support

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The Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (NOCCI) reiterated its support for the creation of the Negros Island Region, expressing also gratefulness to the announcement of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., that he will sign NIR into law.

In an open letter to President Marcos Jr., NOCCI, through its president, Edward Du, said “we are very excited and we really appreciate your support for the NIR bill.”

Regrettably, however, right after your historic pronouncement, the business community of Negros Oriental was shocked and dismayed by the attached letter from the Diocese of Dumaguete imploring your Excellency to Veto Senate Bill 2507, Du said, referring to NIR creation.

Du also disputed what he described as misleading, unfair, unfounded statements and insinuations issued by the Diocese of Dumaguete on the NIR creation.

The Diocese of Dumaguete expressed its opposition to the creation of the NIR allegedly due to lack of proper public consultation.

According to Bishop Julito Cortes, the Senate bill was passed despite a lack of information dissemination and public consultation.

“Regrettably, the passage of the bill has been marred by a lack of comprehensive information dissemination and meaningful consultation with the diverse sectors and stakeholders of Negros Oriental. 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,” Bishop Cortes said in the letter.

The diocese urged informed discourse on the proposed merger of three provinces – Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Siquijor, which was once a sub-province of Negros Oriental.

As to allegations of lack of comprehensive information dissemination and meaningful public consultations, Du stressed that there was a five month period of province-wide public consultations on the pros and cons of NIR twice in Dumaguete City, as well as in Bayawan City, Mabinay, and Guihulngan City.

The 2014 survey of Silliman University which indicated that a huge number of Negros Oriental residents were still undecided on NIR, prompted the political leaders of the province to conduct a five month public consultations, he added.

As to the alleged economic disadvantage of NIR, Du recalled that during the two-year successful implementation of NIR, the alleged injustices, inequalities, and economic disadvantages never happened.

Accordingly, Negros Occidental never exercised its dominance over Negros Oriental, despite disparity in size and population, he stressed.

On the allegation that NIR is politically-driven, Du said the movement for 1- Negros Island is not only initiated by the political sector but also by the business and other sectors, including the academe.

On the financial burden, he explained that during the two years of implementation of NIR, the region was able to accomplish its objectives and mandate without “spending billions of pesos.” Simply put, he added, NIR can be implemented without a huge budget.

As to claims that NIR is anti-poor, Du said the poverty rate in Negros Oriental dropped from 50 percent in 2014 to 32.7 percent in 2018, after the two year implementation of NIR.

He further asked “What is the disadvantage of opening 16 regional offices in Dumaguete City under NIR, compared to zero regional offices under Region 7?”

In view of the counter arguments and with due respect to the anti-NIR stand of the Church, notwithstanding the doctrine of separation of church and State, Du asked President Marcos Jr. to deny and ignore the request of the Diocese of Dumaguete to veto the NIR approval, for lack of merit.*


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May 2024

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