Negrenses sign manifesto urging Duterte to keep Negros Island Region
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – More than 670 Negrenses led by Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr have signed a manifesto urging President Rodrigo Duterte not to abolish the Negros Island Region (NIR).
In his speech during the celebration of Cinco de Noviembre at the Capitol Park and Lagoon in Bacolod City on Saturday, November 5, Marañon said they want to chart their "own destiny."
"We are appealing for the retention of NIR to allow us to continue to exist and flourish," the governor said, adding that "in a very short span of the region's existence, its accomplishments are beyond expectation."
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier expressed reservations over the continuation of the NIR, adding that the executive order abolishing it is ready to be signed by Duterte.
Marañon said, however, that the creation of the region has brought growth and development to its two provinces – Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.
The governor, citing the 2015 Annual Financial Report for Local Government Units of the Commission on Audit, said Negros Occidental was the 3rd richest province in the country, with a net worth of P5.592 billion. Negros Oriental was 5th, with P4.955 billion.
The same report also showed that among the 18 regions in the country, newly-created NIR was the 5th richest region, with a net worth of P36.65 billion.
Marañon said these are "good points" to raise during the House committee hearing on Tuesday, November 8, which would tackle contentious issues about the NIR.
The Special Committee on Visayas Development, a newly-formed committee in the House of Representatives, invited NIR officials and directors of the regional line agencies to the hearing, together with officials of the Department of Budget and Management and the National Economic and Development Authority.
"As a region, we're the 5th richest. Why would they want to abolish us if we are number 5?" said Marañon.
The governor is hoping Duterte will listen to the appeal of the Negrenses.
"I hope he understands what we are asking. This is what almost 5 million, the people in the island want. If we have a referendum, 90% of the people here will support this," Marañon said.
On May 29, 2015, former president Benigno Aquino III signed the EO creating the NIR, which separated Negros Occidental from Western Visayas and Negros Oriental from Central Visayas. – Rappler.com