Negros officials celebrate Senate approval of NIR



Negros officials are in high spirits as the Senate unanimously approved on its third and final reading the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR) during its plenary session on Tuesday.

“A promise fulfilled, a challenge up ahead,” was how Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson described the approval of the NIR Act by 22 senators, almost a year after it was approved by the House of Representatives.

The proposed NIR will be composed of the provinces of Negros Occidental, which belongs to Region 6, as well as Negros Oriental and Siquijor, which are under Region 7.

Lacson said the passage of the long- awaited bill is “historic and a game changer”.

In 2015, the NIR was established through Executive Order No. 183 by the late President Benigno Aquino III, but was later abolished in 2017 through Executive Order No. 38, issued by his successor, Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

In a statement, Victorias City Mayor Javier Miguel Benitez, who heads the Association of Chief Executives of Negros Occidental, said the approval of  Senate Bill 2507, also known as “An Act Establishing the Negros Island Region” will “unlock the boundless development potential for One Negros Region”.

“The overwhelming support from the Senate with 22 affirmative votes and zero negative or abstention shows how important this historic move was, not only to every Negrosanon, but to the whole nation as well,” Benitez said.

He noted that last year’s unanimous approval of the counterpart House Bill 7355 “heralded the widespread acceptance of the reorganized NIR.”

“We fervently pray in solidarity and humbly petition His Excellency, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to hear the people of Negros in our desire to live and prosper as one region,” he added.

Negros Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer said “this is what we have been waiting for.”

“This is what we asked from the sitting president during the 2022 campaign. This is the fulfillment of everyone’s dream here in Negros, to be united and not separated from seas anymore,” he added.

Negros Occidental Fourth District Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer, said that “(f)inally, the dream of a Negros Island Region will become a reality.”

Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez commended the dedication and commitment of all the senators towards the progress and unity of Negros Island.

“Together, we forge ahead for a brighter future,” he added.

Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez described its passage as a monumental step forward.

“This is a great milestone for all Negrenses in our dream for a united and prosperous Negros,” the lawmaker said. | GB