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RDC 6 consults stakeholders in anticipation of NIR

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez with Rep. Mercedes Alvarez and Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Remollo at the NIR consultative meeting in Bacolod City.* GPB photo

In anticipation of the enactment of Negros Island Region bill into law, the Regional Development Council( RDC) 6 yesterday hold a coordination meeting among stakeholders, to ensure that there will no major issues, or stumbling blocks along the way of its implementation.

Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, who chairs the RDCs in Visayas, yesterday said that issues and concerns were raised by regional directors of the different government agencies, especially on the manpower needed to fill up regional offices.

Benitez said he will push for an additional budget of those undermanned government agencies.

The consultative meeting was also attended by Negros Occidental mayors, led by Victorias City Mayor Javier Miguel Benitez. Rep. Mercedes Alvarez, and Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Remollo, aside from regional directors of various government agencies.

Mayor Albee Benitez disclosed that the consolidated Senate Bill Number 2507 and House Bill Number 7355, or Negros Island Region Act, was already sent to Malacañang on May 13 for the signature of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

He said PBBM has 30 days to sign it, or it will lapse into law.

Benitez disclosed that he will also send a letter to RDC 7 for another consultation, to hear their proposals in terms of staffing, allocation of resources, and offices, among others. A similar meeting will also be held with Negros Oriental and Siquijor to get their sentiments, regarding the newly created region, he added.

The mayor said that PBBM mentioned to him that he will sign the NIR into law. “That is a very encouraging statement from the President himself,” Benitez said.

Asked if there will be a problem, following the reshuffling at the Senate, he said he does not foresee any “because that is legislative, we are now on the executive branch.”

“It’s just a matter of getting both Regions 6 and 7 to organize for the creation of NIR,” Benitez said.

With the adoption of the Senate version of the NIR by the House of Representatives on the assignment of regional offices, Alvarez said Negros Occidental will get the agricultural and land related clusters, such as departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, as well as Human Settle and Urban Development, and also Peace and Order and government clusters.

Meanwhile, the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, Health, and Education will be in Negros Oriental, she added.

As soon as the NIR is signed into law, Alvarez said they will insert a provision that regional offices will not be prohibited from establishing extension offices in other provinces.

As to the budget requirements, it will come from the different agencies concerned, in the year that NIR is approved. By the succeeding years, it will be included in the General Appropriations Act (GAA), she added.

On his part as president of the Negros Association of Chief Executives, Victorias City Mayor Javi Benitez said they have already started reaching out their counterparts in the neighboring provinces.

During the weekend, Mayor Javi and Manapla Mayor Manolet Lamata met with Dumaguete City Mayor Remollo and Bayawan City Mayor John Jack Raymond Jr. to assure them of help once NIR is implemented, being a big brother to Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

He proposed a fellowship and team building among local chief executives, regional directors of different government agencies, among others, in Siquijor, after NIR is signed into law by PBBM.*

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