Roxas backs creation of one region for Negros
BACOLOD CITY—Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas has endorsed to President Aquino the creation of one region that will comprise the two provinces on Negros Island.
His announcement was met with applause and cheers from a crowd of about 5,000 led by officials of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental provinces who were at Panaad Park and Stadium in Barangay Mansiligan for the opening of the 22nd Panaad sa Negros Festival on Monday.
During a keynote speech, Roxas, the supposed standard-bearer of the Liberal Party in next year’s presidential elections, said he had briefed the President about his support for the creation of a Negros Island Region (NIR) over dinner last week before submitting his formal memorandum.
He said he believed Aquino would see the advantages of establishing the NIR though he was preempting the President’s decision.
Under the island-region concept, Roxas said, national government agencies could focus more on the high level of poverty in the two Negros provinces and hasten public investments they need to progress.
The provinces have been “out of sight, out of mind” since the regional offices are based in Iloilo and Cebu, he said.
Negros Occidental is currently part of Western Visayas with regional officers in Iloilo on Panay Island. Negros Oriental is part of Central Visayas with regional offices on Cebu Island.
The biggest concern in creating the NIR was the cost of establishing the new regional office.
But Roxas said the issue had been resolved with a proposal to temporarily use provincial offices of national government agencies in Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.
Negros officials are hoping the President will issue an executive order creating the NIR before the end of 2015.
With Roxas’ endorsement, Negros Occidental Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said “the light at the end of the tunnel looks brighter.”
Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said he hoped Aquino would issue the executive order before the yearend because the campaign fever for the May 2016 polls would already set in.
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