The objective is to unite Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Bacolod City, into a single administrative region called the administrative region of the island of Negros.
Political approvals for national betting in the Negros Occidental will depend in part on their support for the restoration of the Island of Negros region.
While coalitions and local political lists still struggle to choose their presidential bets, Gov. Eugenio Jose “Bong” Lacson and Vice-Gov. Jeffry Ferrer have already endorsed Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who has tabled Senate Bill 2453 or the Negros Island Region Law on Wednesday, November 17.
The bills aim to bring together Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Bacolod City, into a single administrative region called Negros Island Administrative Region.
“I was visiting Negros recently – that’s where my father was born, actually – and the main concern is the recovery of the NIR,” Zubiri said in a statement on Friday (November 19th).
Ferrer confirmed on November 19 that many local politicians wanted the Negros region, representing the fourth largest island in the country, to return.
At least two presidential bets on the 2020 election, Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Ping Lacson have expressed support for the NIR.
Ferrer told Rappler that their endorsement of Zubiri, whose family moved from Negros to Bukidnon, is also due to his many contributions to the sugar industry over the years.
“It’s not just the NIR,” Ferrer said in a telephone interview. “Migs (Zubiri’s nickname) has been a long-time friend of Negros Occidental and very supportive of the needs of the sugar industry.”
Zubiri said he would continue to push for ways to cut fertilizer costs, which weighed on sugarcane farmers during a Nov. 13 press conference with the governor and vice governor. by Negros Occidental.
After that press conference, Lacson said he would suggest that politicians in the Love Negros-United Negros Alliance provincial roster only consider national bets that support the Island of Negros region.
Support for the NIR won’t be the only factor in determining approvals, Ferrer told Rappler. He also clarified previous reports citing him as saying that local politicians would campaign against national candidates who oppose the plan.
“It was just a figure of speech. I was half kidding,” Ferrer said. “Sya bonus points for a candidate. But those who are not yet ready to support the NIR will not necessarily withdraw.”
The vice-governor explained that Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental are at a disadvantage due to their current inclusion in two different regions, Regions VI and VII, respectively.
“We are a bit removed from the regional centers and that usually means a slower flow of governance,” Ferrer said. “In terms of efficiency and residents’ access to government services, distance has a certain effect. “
The Western Visayas largely consist of the city of Iloilo and the provinces of the island of Panay, as well as Guimaras, the small island province located just off the coast of Iloilo. The Negrens must take an hour-long ferry to reach the town of Iloilo.
The center of the Central Visayas is the city of Cebu, some 167 kilometers from the city of Dumaguete, the capital of Negros Oriental. It takes either a plane trip or a barge crossing, followed by several hours of overland travel, for officials based in Dumaguete to reach the regional center.
Former President Benigno Aquino III signed Decree 183 in May 2015, authorizing the establishment of the Island of Negros region, in order to accelerate social and economic development and improve the delivery of public services in both provinces.
Mar Roxas, who ran for president of Aquino’s Liberal Party in 2016, won an overwhelming majority in the Negros Occidental against the eventual winner, President Rodrigo Duterte.
Zubiri said a law is needed for the new region “so that whatever administration we are under, the NIR will remain”.
He was referring to President Rodrigo Duterte’s decree of August 2017 revoked by Executive Decree (EO) No 38 of Aquino. The president had expressed his opposition to the island region in October 2016.
“The establishment of regional offices (ROs) of ministries and agencies in the RNI requires substantial appropriations to be fully operational, thus competing with priority government programs and projects for funding,” Duterte wrote in his EO.
“Everyone was really looking forward to the development of the region, and the revocation of the previous OE was demoralizing to say the least,” Zubiri recalled.
“The Negrenses have been lobbying for the NIR since the 1980s, so its abolition in 2017 was a blow. Sana nabigyan ng chance ang NIR (They should have given the NIR a chance).
“Yes, the NIR will incur additional costs from the national government, but it’s worth the investment. In the long term, it would be more economical and efficient to regroup the two provinces under the same administrative region. Our people in Negros deserve accessible government services. – Rappler.com