• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The proposed creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR) is finally moving in the Senate.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and five other senators have co-authored Senate Bill No. 2507, or the Negros Island Region Act, which was raised on Dec. 6 in the Senate plenary.
He was joined by Senate President Pro-Tempore Loren Legarda, Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Senators Joseph Victor Ejercito, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Manuel Lito Lapid.
Zubiri said that reestablishing the NIR would bring the government closer to the people, noting that the present set up of Negros is complicated.
Residents of Negros Occidental have to travel to Iloilo to apply for their identification cards, certificates or permits while those from Negros Oriental have to go to Cebu for the same purpose.
The House of Representatives already gave its approval to the creation of the NIR, via unanimous votes, among its members.
Under the bill, NIR shall be composed of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
Ejercito backed the statement of Zubiri, stressing that it will benefits Negrenses and Siquijodnons for decades to come, when it is enacted.
“Our goal is for the six clusters of regional offices to be divided between the two halves of the island to ensure the effective delivery of services,” said Ejercito, who chairs the Senate local government committee.
He added that the governors of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor have already expressed their full support for the NIR during their recent meeting with Zubiri.
Ejercito said that the three governors cited inefficiency and red tape as the main reason for seeking a united Negros Island.
NIR, which was created during the presidency of the late Benigno Aquino III, through an executive order, was later abolished by his successor, Rodrigo Duterte. | GB