BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Amid suggestions to create sub regions for Western and Central Visayas, Negros Occidental Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer is still pushing for the revival of Negros Island Region, which operated for two years before being abolished during the administration of then President Rodrigo Duterte.
Ferrer recalled that NIR had been operating smoothly in those two years, under the existing budgets of Regions 6 and 7, stressing that there is no need for creating sub regions, instead of the NIR.
We will still support NIR, he stressed.
Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Benitez earlier revealed the suggestions of the Department of Budget and Management, as well as the National Economic Development Authority, that instead of turning Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental into one region, Region 6B and Region 7B should instead be created to address the clamor for efficient delivery of services.
Under Regions 6B and 7B, Benitez said that all government offices based in Iloilo and Cebu will have satellite offices in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, respectively, where people can transact business.
Negros Island solons have filed separate bills before the House of Representatives for the revival of the NIR, with some of them even pushing for the inclusion of Siquijor in the proposed region.
Ferrer said that even the inclusion of Siquijor in the NIR revival, may contribute delays to its passage in Congress.
Benitez said the DBM and NEDA proposals will be presented for discussion with the political leaders of affected areas.
Ferrer further said he will have a meeting with one of the Department of Public Works and Highways undersecretaries today in Pulupandan, to be attended by Mayor Miguel Antonio Peña, regarding the the entry and exit points of the proposed Panay Guimaras Negros bridge in Negros Occidental.
We will look into Pulupandan, Ferrer said, although he admitted having some proposals before the COVID 19 pandemic.
But the decision lies with the DPWH, he stressed.
According to NEDA and DPWH study, the Panay-Guimaras bridge will have a sea crossing bridge length of 4.97 kilometers, while the Guimaras-Negros bridge portion has 13.11 kilometers of sea crossing bridge length.
DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonoan reported earlier that Korean Exim Bank committed to funding the Detailed Engineering Design (DED) and civil works for the Panay-Guimaras segment, while they are still looking for funding for the Guimaras-Negros segment.
Ferrer however said there could be many willing provide funding for the Guimaras-Negros segment, either through securing loans, or through BOT (Build Operate Transfer) scheme.
He added that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is committed to start the mega project within the six years of his administration.*