What Went Before: Negros Island Region
The Negros Island Region (NIR) was created on May 29, 2015, by virtue of Executive Order (EO) No. 183 to promote efficiency in the government, accelerate social and economic development, and improve public services in its provinces.
Signed by then President Benigno Aquino III, the EO merged the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental into a one-island region, making the NIR the country’s 18th region.
Before that, it was the only island with two provinces belonging to two different regions—Negros Occidental in Western Visayas and Negros Oriental in Central Visayas.
For day-to-day business transactions in the region, it had been proposed that the NIR center would be in the central part of the island at the border of Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental and Mabinay town in Negros Oriental.
Before the NIR was created, those from Negros Occidental had to travel to Iloilo to do business with the regional government, while those from Negros Oriental had to go to Cebu.
Local officials of both provinces had expressed elation over the signing of the EO No. 183, calling it a “dream” realized after 21 years.
The lobby for the NIR started in 1994 during the term of then President Fidel Ramos and when Rafael Coscolluela was governor of Negros Occidental and Emilio Macias, of Negros Oriental.
The region had been in limbo due to fund shortage.
In October 2016, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Diño said the NIR might be scrapped even before it could be fully set up due to budget constraints. He estimated the creation and operation of NIR at P20 billion.
Diño said funding for the NIR was not included in the 2016 budget and even in the proposed 2017 budget.
A bill was filed in the House of Representatives in November last year, creating the NIR or Region 18. It was supported by lawmakers from Negros and other districts in the Visayas. —KATHLEEN DE VILLA, INQUIRER RESEARCH
Sources: Inquirer Archives
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