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Now or never for NIR – guv

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

It’s a now or never situation for the proposed revival of the Negros Island Region (NIR), Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson disclosed yesterday.

After its approval by the House of Representatives and declaration of support by many senators, Lacson said “if it goes beyond this administration, it may not happen at all.”

Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, chairperson of the Senate committee on Local Government, in a statement, strongly debunked insinuations that the proposed NIR bill is stuck in his committee.

“There were unforeseen circumstances like the death of the late Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and his successor, which delayed the process,” Ejercito explained.

We just need to convince the President of the viability as he is apprehensive because of the cost putting a new region will entail,” he added.

Ever since the NIR was conceptualized, the issue raised against it was “funding,” Lacson said.

The governor however said he remains optimistic that NIR will be realized.

Supporting the statement of Ejercito, Lacson said he prefers a short delay in the passage, so the Local Government committee will have time to come up a strong case for NIR

It’s better to study it well, so that they could convince the President, rather than speed it up, he added.

As to the issue on the NIR budget, Lacson recalled that there was no budget for setting up the previous NIR. “If it worked out before, I don’t see any reason it will not work out,” he said, adding that they are not expecting offices to be built immediately.

What is important, Lacson said “is to have a new and functional region.”

Lacson added that he is offering space for the regional offices in the 25-hectare lot owned by the provincial government in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.

It could also be in Kabankalan City, he added.

“We will follow the model of South Cotabato where the regional offices of the region are in one area,” Lacson further said.

Both Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental have also agreed to divide regional offices.*

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