Zubiri not giving up on Negros region

Published August 10, 2017, 10:01 PM
By Vanne Elaine P. Terrazola and Tara Yap

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said he will push for the re-establishment of the Negros Island Region (NIR) which President Duterte had ordered abolished.

“I am saddened by the latest development concerning the Negros Island Region, however I respect President Duterte’s decision for its abolition,” Zubiri said in a statement.

The Negrense lawmaker supported the integration of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental into a single region in 2015.

Negros Occidental was part of Western Visayas and Negros Oriental of Central Visayas.

Zubiri filed a Senate resolution pushing for its recognition and even appealed to the President last year to retain the new region.

“Let me reassure you that we will not stop looking for reasons to have the NIR re-established,” Zubiri said.

He assured that development programs for the two Negros provinces will be funded.

Duterte on Monday signed Executive Order 38 which dissolved the NIR, citing problems in funding and appropriation.

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. assured that “Even with the revocation (of the NIR), we will continue to champion development efforts that will benefit our communities.”

Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo added the two provinces will remain close.

“Though short-lived, the NIR had accomplished much. The achievements made by national government agencies are beyond compare. They served NIR very well,” Marañon said.

Not all government agencies were able to set up a regional office in Negros. Some were still in Iloilo City, the political hub of Western Visayas, while others were in Cebu City, the political and commercial center of Central Visayas.

The creation in 2015 of NIR was seen largely as a political move. Mar Roxas, the defeated presidential candidate of the Liberal Party, pushed for the new region when he was secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia called on Negrense “congressmen to pursue and hasten the legislative process to put this issue back on the debating table.”

Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Alfredo Benitez said they will work to minimize the impact of the dissolution of the NIR on the island. (With a report from Carla N. Canet)