Negros Occ. solon unfazed by Degamo’s NIR opposition


Unfazed by the opposition of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo on the proposed creation of the Negros Island Region, 6th District Rep. Mercedes Alvarez said Tuesday that the governor’s stand will not impede the re-creation of NIR.

At the end of the day, the approval of the bill is with the members of Congress, said Alvarez, who attended the New Year’s party and birthday celebration Tuesday night of Abang Lingkod Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano at a hotel in Bacolod City.

The unification of two Negros provinces into one region is slowly inching towards reality, as the House Committee on Local Government approved a substitute bill creating the NIR, that includes the island province of Siquijor.

La Castellana Mayor Rhummyla Nicor Mangilimutan, Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer, Negros Oriental Rep. Arnie Teves, and Negros Occ. Rep. Mercedes Alvarez (l-r) with Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Joseph Paduano, who celebrated his birthday Tuesday night in Bacolod City. | GB photo

The proposed NIR will be composed of the provinces of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Bacolod City, and all the cities, municipalities, and barangays therein.

Alvarez, who co-chaired the committee Technical Working Group, said that Siquijor’s Gov. Jake Vincent Villa and Siquijor Lone District Rep. Zaldy Villa have manifested before the TWG their wish to include their island-province in the NIR, prior to the committee approval.

Degamo had reportedly signified his opposition to the creation of the NIR, due to “cultural differences”.

Alvarez said the Local Government Committee has not received any written position paper from Degamo, despite the communication sent to his office.

“It would have been nice if he (Degamo) submitted his position paper during the committee hearing,” she added.

Alvarez also stressed that the three Negros Oriental solons are co-authors of the NIR bill.

“They also represent the votes of those on the Oriental side,” she stressed, apparently referring to Reps. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong, Manuel Sagarbarria, and Arnulfo “Arnie” Teves.

“We give importance to what they are saying because they also represent the voice of the people in their respective district,” Alvarez added.

Meanwhile, Negros Occidental 4th District Rep. Juliet Marie de Leon Ferrer, who also co-authored the substitute bill, explained that administrative regions are established to promote efficiency in government to better serve the people, as well as to promote social and economic development in the area.

The proposed NIR bill is also supported by five senators, including Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The NIR was first established through an executive order issued by then president Benigno Aquino III in 2015. It was, however, dissolved by his successor, Rodrigo Duterte, in 2017.

After it was approved by the committee, Alvarez said the NIR Technical Working Group, which will be headed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, with the Office of the President as among its members, will be organized.

The purpose of the TWG is to make a roadmap towards the creation of NIR, she said.

“We will also move to the Committee on Appropriations, since the bill entails funding,” Alvarez said.

But she stressed that the funding will not be needed immediately, adding that the budget for the establishment of regional temporary offices will come from the existing funds of concerned government agencies./GB