Negros group calls on Marcos to deny church veto bid on NIR

Marcos urged to deny Church veto bid on Negros Island Region

/ 12:27 PM April 20, 2024

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BACOLOD CITY — A business group in Negros Oriental has asked President Marcos to deny the request of the Diocese of Dumaguete to veto the Negros Island Region (NIR) bill.

The Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (NOCCII), in a letter to President Marcos on Thursday, April 18, expressed its full support for the NIR, saying the business community of the province was very happy and grateful for the president’s statement that he would sign into law Senate Bill 2507 creating the NIR composed of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.


NOCCII president Edward Du advised Marcos to deny and ignore the March 25 request of the Diocese of Dumaguete, citing the doctrine of separation of Church and State.


Du asked why the Diocese of Dumaguete was complaining only after the President announced that he was supporting the NIR.

READ:Negros execs slam local Church try to veto NIR revival

“Why ‘sabotage’ or stop the signing into law of a very good bill (SB 2507) after its unanimous approval by both the Senate and House of Representatives?” he said.

The Diocese of Dumaguete has called on President Marcos to veto the bill which seeks to create the NIR for “grave lack of fair, just and truthful consultation.”

In a letter dated March 25 but sent to the Office of the President after the Holy Week, the local church said the intention behind Senate Bill No. 2507, which has recently received approval “is unclear to the general public.”

The Diocese of Dumaguete cited a 2014 Survey conducted by Silliman University showing that 43.34 percent opposed NIR and only 25.83 percent supported NIR, while the rest were undecided.


READ: Negros Oriental church execs to Marcos: Veto creation of NIR

Du pointed out that the Diocese of Dumaguete had all the chances to oppose the creation of the NIR when Congress was crafting the bill but “they kept quiet and did not lift a finger.”

The 2014 survey, he said, was done to determine whether or not there was still a need to conduct province-wide all-out public consultations and prepare the budgetary requirements for a 5-month long public consultations.

Accordingly, since the survey results showed a huge number (30.83 percent) were still undecided, the political leaders of Negros Oriental decided to conduct a 5-month long province-wide public consultations.

Du said the response of the majority to the consultations is that they supported the NIR so then President (Benigno) Aquino III signed Executive Order 183 on May 29, 2015 creating the new island region.

READ: Group of priests bucks split of Cebu archdiocese

“Accordingly, because Negros Occidental never exercised its dominance over Negros Oriental despite the disparity in size and population explains why the Diocese of Dumaguete never complained about NIR for two years from 2015 to 2017,” he said.

“With due respect to the position of the Diocese of Dumaguete, the business community believes that cultural and linguistic differences cannot and will never be a hindrance to economic prosperity, peace and harmony of any region,” Du added.

Du also said the claim of the Diocese of Dumaguete that the push for NIR appears to be driven more by the interests of powerful politicians than the genuine needs and demands of the people is not true.

“The movement for 1-Negros Island is not only initiated by the political sector but also by the business sector and other sectors including the academe,” he said.

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Du also belied the claim of the Diocese of Dumaguete that the creation of NIR entails significant financial costs, with estimates reaching billions of pesos.

He pointed out that during the two-year implementation of NIR in 2015 to 2017, it was able to accomplish its objectives and mandate without spending billions of pesos.

“Simply put, NIR can be implemented without a huge budget,” Du said.

He also pointed out that under the NIR, 16 new regional offices would be opened in Dumaguete City so there would be no need for Negrenses to travel to Cebu.

Du also said the fear of the Diocese of Dumaguete that NIR would negatively impact the poor people of Negros Oriental was unfounded and not supported by facts and figures.

Before the creation of NIR in May 2015, he said the 2014 poverty rate of Negros Oriental was at 50 percent. After the 2-year implementation of NIR from 2015 to 2017, Du said the poverty rate decreased to 32.7 percent in 2018.

He said the business community of Negros Oriental was shocked and dismayed by the Diocese of Dumaguete’s appeal for the president to veto Senate Bill 2507.

“The Diocese of Dumaguete’s allegations of absence or lack of comprehensive information dissemination and meaningful public consultations on the NIR is misleading,” Du said.

He said several months before Aquino signed the executive order creating the NIR, province-wide public consultations were conducted by political leaders of Negros Oriental in Bayawan City, Mabinay, Guihulngan City, and twice in Dumaguete City with former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

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Du said the Diocese of Dumaguete, during the two-year implementation of the new region from May 2015 to August 2017, never complained that the NIR was anti-poor, oppressive, and disadvantageous to the people of Negros Oriental as it now claims.

TAGS: Church, Negros Island Region

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