9 solons from Negros Island file bill to expand region | Inquirer News

9 solons from Negros Island file bill to expand region

/ 08:29 PM July 07, 2022
Nine Negros Island representatives filed a bill seeking the creation of an expanded Negros Island Region (NIR) before the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The plenary hall of the Batasang Pambansa. Screenshot from RTVM Youtube Live

BACOLOD CITY — Nine Negros Island representatives filed a bill seeking the creation of an expanded Negros Island Region (NIR) before the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

House Bill 1446 seeks to create Region 6-B composed of the provinces of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.

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Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday also filed a bill seeking the creation of the NIR composed of Negros Occidental and Oriental.

The expanded NIR bill in the Lower House was introduced by Rep. Francisco Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District), Joseph Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod), Gerardo Valmayor Jr. (Neg. Occ., 1st District), Emilio Bernardino Yulo (Neg. Occ., 5th District), Mercedes Alvarez (Neg. Occ., 6th District), Greg Gasataya (Bacolod), Jocelyn Sy-Limkaichong (Neg. Or., 1st District), Manuel Sagarbarria (Neg. Or., 2nd District) and Arnolfo Teves Jr. (Neg. Or., 3rd District).

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“The dream of consolidating the two Negros provinces – Oriental and Occidental – in one administrative region, however, continues to live on – an aspiration that is deeply grounded in their histories,” they said.

“For 300 years under the Spanish colonial government, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental were governed as a single province. It was only in 1890 that Negros was divided into two provinces,” they added.

The two Negros provinces united again in establishing the cantonal government of Negros, popularly called the “Republic of Negros” but officially the Gobierno Republicano Federal del Canton de Ysla de Negros or Federal Republican Government of the Canton of Negros Island in 1898 after the surrender of Spanish colonial authorities in Negros Occidental.

The autonomy of the Negros Canton was short-lived – undermined first by the establishment of a unitary government under the Malolos Constitution, then by the American occupation.

Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental had henceforward taken different trajectories, the nine representatives said.

Their destinies, however, converge on one commodity: sugar.

“The sugar industry has shaped the provinces’ history, economy and culture. Negros Island accounts for half of the country’s total sugarcane production,” the nine congressmen said.

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However, the island’s economic dependence on sugar has made it vulnerable to price fluctuations in the world market.

“The challenge is to transform the economy of Negros Island to ensure that economic growth redounds to the benefit of the people. Here, the close economic coordination of the two Negros provinces is most crucial. Re-unifying the two Negros provinces under one administrative region therefore becomes necessary,” they said.

In view of its proximity and cultural similarities, they said the inclusion of Siquijor province to the proposed Region 6-B is logical and practical.

“Greater economic coordination will strengthen economies of scale in the provinces of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor and will consolidate separate development plans into a coherent, complementary roadmap for sustainable and inclusive economic growth for the provinces,” they said.

Negros Occidental is currently part of Region 6, while Negros Oriental and Siquijor are part of Region 7.

The NIR was created by Executive Order No. 183 issued by the late president Benigno Aquino III “to further accelerate the social and economic development of the cities and municipalities comprising the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, and improve the delivery of public services in the aforementioned provinces.”

But on August 9, 2017, former president Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 38 dissolving the NIR for “competing with the government priority programs and projects for funding,” as a substantial appropriation is needed for it to be fully operational.

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TAGS: House, Negros island, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor
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