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NIR 3rd reading gets unanimous approval

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya, Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer (Neg. Occ., 4th District), Rep. Jocelyn Sy-Limkaichong (Neg. Or., 1st District), Rep. Mercedes Alvarez (Neg. Occ., 6th District), Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District), and Rep. Emilio Yulo III (Neg. Occ., 5th District), at the House of Representatives after the passage of the NIR bill on third and final reading.*

The Negros Island Region bill (HB 7355) was unanimously approved on 3rd and final reading yesterday at the House of Representatives, disclosed Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez.

The bill proposing a new Visayas region, authored by all Negros Island solons, includes the provinces of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

Negros Occidental Fourth District Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer reported that the House passed the bill with 290 votes, with zero negative votes and zero abstention.

“We are grateful to Speaker Martin Romualdez and all the members of Congress for the unanimous approval of the bill,” Ferrer said.

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, as well as 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.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson earlier said he hopes that the passage of a law creating NIR by December, would be a nice Christmas gift.

“We will then have to wait for the Senate version,” the governor said, as he recalled that many of the senators made it a campaign promise to support NIR during the campaign period last year.*

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