House bill to create Negros Island Region passed on final reading
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives passed a revived proposal to create a Negros Island Region (NIR) on its third and final reading on Monday.
House Bill (HB) No. 7355, which seeks to create a joint region for provinces within and near the Negros Island — Negros Oriental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, and including Bacolod City — was approved with 290 lawmakers voting in the affirmative, with no one voting against it and no abstentions.
If enacted, HB No. 7355 will lead to the formulation of a NIR Technical Working Group, which would include representatives from the following government agencies:
- Office of the President
- Department of Budget and Management
- Department of the Interior and Local Government
- Office of the Governor of the provinces of Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Siquijor
- elected district representatives of the 16 provinces, including the representative of Bacolod City
“The TWG shall formulate strategic plans to put in place the institutional arrangements for the 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,” the bill said.
The DILG would be the technical working group’s secretariat.
According to its proponents, creating the Negros Island Region would bring more progress and solidarity to their constituents, while encouraging administrative decentralization and accelerating social and economic development.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel expressed his support for the bill in his speech.
“It has long been a problem for citizens of Negros Island that they need to cross many physical barriers just to avail of services because of the separation of two provinces belonging to different regions but on the same island,” Manuel said in Filipino.
“Kabataan believes in centralizing the services and agencies of government in just one physical region by forming the Negros Island Region that will lessen the effort and expenses of the citizens of Negros.”