Negros Officials See Positive in NIR Dissolution

Leaders from Negros Occidental and Oriental are seeing the positive side in the dissolution by President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday of the Negros Island Region (NIR) or Region 18 yesterday.

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., said the two Negros provinces “are partners whether there is a Negros Island Region or not. We are still one island.”

“We have been expecting this from the very start from the President that he would dissolve it. At least we have proven that in the short time that it existed there was a lot of gains and other activities,” Marañon said.

The Governor added that the two provinces “will continue to work for the best of Negros. We will still have joint projects.”

“I feel a little bit disappointed and dismayed,” Marañon said, adding that “there will be problems with existing regional offices like the police, education, agriculture and social welfare.”

For Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, he has “full trust and confidence in the President and whatever decision he has made regarding NIR I will support it.”

“I am not disappointed. It is his decision,” Degamo said.

He also said that, “we will continue to be one island and continue to be friends and whatever programs already started that are beneficial for the whole island we will pursue.”

LACK OF FUNDS.

Citing lack of funds, Duterte dissolved the NIR created by the previous administration.

Executive Order (EO) No. 38, signed by Duterte, revokes EO No. 138 signed by former President Benigno Aquino III which created the NIR.

The new EO virtually returned the provinces of Negros Occidental to Western Visayas (Region VI) and Negros Oriental to Central Visayas (Region VII).

The order also abolished the NIR regional offices with their personnel ordered to return to their previous assignments or reassigned to other offices in their department or agency.

“The establishment of regional offices (ROs) of departments and agencies in the NIR requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus competing with government priority programs and projects for funding,” it said.

Duterte had already made the decision to dissolve the island region in a Cabinet meeting on October 3, 2016.

The NIR was seen as a legacy of the Aquino administration.

It was pushed by then interior secretary Manuel Roxas II, whose family hails from Negros Occidental as his mother Judy Araneta-Roxas hails from Bago City.

Marañon and Degamo supported Roxas’ presidential bid in 2016.

Duterte placed second in the two provinces.

VICE GOVERNOR LACSON

Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said that “NIR is not a priority for this administration as can be understood in order.”

“I propose that a special body be created to continue the cooperation with Negros Oriental. If we step back, we may lose whatever cooperation through the Regional Development Council of the NIR has gained,” Lacson said.* (NIR-IO with reports from Arman P. Toga & Edith B. Colmo)