Aquino OKs creation of Negros Island Region
President Benigno Aquino III has signed an executive order creating the Negros Island Region (NIR).
Executive Order (EO) no. 183, signed last May 29, states that the NIR will be composed of Negros Oriental, which was formerly under Central Visayas, and Negros Occidental, formerly under Western Visayas.
In the EO, Aquino said “there is a need 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.”
A technical working group (TWG), composed of the Office of the President, the Department of Budget and Management, the National Economic Development Authority, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, will be created. Representatives of the two provinces will also be included in the TWG.
The TWG is tasked to formulate a roadmap, which will ensure that “institutional arrangements” for the NIR. It will also recommend an appropriate regional centre to the Office of the President, as well as “arrange the requirements for organisational development, staffing, and budgeting of regional line and regulatory agencies.”
Also to be established are a Negros Island Development Council with Neda as secretariat, a Negros Island Peace and Order Council with DILG as secretariat and Negros Island DRRM (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management) Council with the Office of Civil Defense as secretariat.
The TWG will be funded by the implementing agencies and the two provinces.
Last April, Aquino met with Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo. The two officials said all contentious issues have already been addressed. The President told local media that he will sign the EO as soon as he receives the draft proposal.
“I was hoping we’re talking within weeks, not months,” he said then.
The President said he believed that uniting the two provinces into one region would “hasten progress,” especially since the island region would only have to divide its resources for the two provinces.
“Negros Occidental is currently part of Western Visayas that has six provinces, and Negros Oriental is part of Central Visayas that has four so the pie is divided more ways,” he had said.
Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, whose family hails from Negros Occidental, earlier endorsed the proposal. He said the two provinces were “out of sight, out of mind” because the offices of their respective regions were in Iloilo and Cebu.
Among the concerns raised then was the cost of setting up a new regional office in the island. Roxas, however, said existing provincial offices could be used.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.