Senate to check economic viability of putting up Negros Island Region
BACOLOD CITY — Plans to create the Negros Island Region (NIR) will be tackled in the Senate to make sure it ends up benefitting the economy.
This was according to Senator Imee Marcos, who said in a recent press conference in Bacolod City: “If you’re going to set up a new area, it should be viable economically. It should be worth it because you will be setting up offices. That’s costly.”
Marcos said she does not have a stand yet on the NIR which is up for hearings in the Senate.
The senator and sister of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said she heard about the proposed NIR a long time ago and there was the “argument that it was not feasible economically.”
“I don’t know what the revivalists have to say. We have to listen first,” said Marcos who joined Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte in the National Teachers’ Month program at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod on Friday, September 15.
House Bill No. 7355, creating the NIR, was passed by the House of Representatives in March.
The NIR shall be composed of the cities, municipalities, and barangays in Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and the island province of Siquijor.
The Senate committee on local government has also approved Senate Bill No. 1236, authored by Senator JV Ejercito, seeking to create the NIR to boost the efficiency of the delivery of government services and provide convenience for the region’s residents in line with the administration’s goal of rightsizing.
In his visit to Negros Occidental last month, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri pledged to see the passage of the NIR bill by December this year.
Zubiri said the bill would be tackled before the Senate goes on a break in October.
On September 10, Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson expressed hopes that Marcos will go for the creation of the NIR.
“If Senator Imee (Marcos) cares about Negros, I suppose she will support the NIR. The financial viability of the NIR is an old line of reasoning that has been used before,” he said in a separate interview.
“While it may be costly, the economic impact on both provinces is tremendous, and if Senator Imee cares about Negros, I suppose she will support the NIR,” the governor added.
Lacson pointed out that the national government spent a fortune creating the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and continues to do so.
He said he is still confident the NIR will happen in the current administration “but it should happen not later than June 2024, otherwise election 2025 will be the focus.”