BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Nine Negros solons are pushing for the restoration of Negros Island Region, by filing yesterday House Bill No. 10534 that seeks to unify Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental into one region.
Filed by Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez and eight other Negros lawmakers, HB 10534 is aimed at creating the 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.
Consolidating the two Negros provinces in one administrative region will ensure greater economic coordination and more efficient delivery of public services that will promote sustainable and inclusive economic development, Benitez said.
The eight other Negros solons who co-authored HB 10534 are Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya, Rep. Gerardo Valmayor (1st district, Negros Occ). Rep. Rafael Leo Cueva (2nd district, Negros Occ), Rep. Juliet Ferrer (4th district, Negros Occ). Rep. Marilou Arroyo (5th district, Negros Occ), Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Joseph Paduano, Negros Oriental Reps. Jocelyn Sy-Limkaichong and Arnolfo Teves Jr.
Greater economic coordination will strengthen economics of scale in the island, and will consolidate separate development plans into a coherent, complementary road map for sustainable and inclusive economic growth for the two Negros provinces, the Negros lawmakers said.
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.
Last week, Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri filed Senate Bill No. 2453, or the Negros Island Region Act, which seeks to bring together Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Bacolod City, establishing them as a single administrative region called the Negros Island Administrative Region.
“We need to make this a law so that whatever administration we are under, the Negros Island Region will stay.” Zubiri said.
The NIR, which was created through an executive order issued in 2015 by the late President Benigno ”NoyNoy” Aquino III, was abolished by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 to the dismay of Negrenses.
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.*