FAST FACTS: The Negros Island Region
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – On May 29, 2015, President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order 183 creating the Negros Island Region (NIR).
Negros Occidental was carved from Region VI (Western Visayas), and Negros Oriental from Region VII (Central Visayas) to form the new region. Its regional center will be determined by a technical working group.
An idea 20 years in the making, the Negros Island Region was created "to further accelerate the social and economic development of the cities and municipalities comprising the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental and improve the delivery of public services in the aforementioned provinces."
How does the Negros Island Region look like? Here are some quick figures.
The region has a population of 4,194,525, as of 2010.
Negros Occidental, including its capital Bacolod City, has a population of 2,907,859 living in 13 cities and 19 municipalities, with a combined 662 barangays. Bacolod City, with a population of 511,820, is independent from the province due to its status as a highly-urbanized city.
Negros Oriental has a population of 1,286,666. It has a total of 557 barangays in 6 cities and 19 towns. Dumaguete City is the provincial capital.
Below is a map of the Negros Island Region, with the capital of each province and all the cities highlighted.
According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Hiligaynon or Ilonggo is the language predominantly spoken in Negros Occidental, while Bisaya and Cebuano are the languages used by most people in Negros Oriental.
Economic, poverty data
Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental are both 1st class provinces. Their respective capitals, however, have different income classifications: Bacolod is a 1st class city, while Dumaguete is a 3rd class city.
Negros Occidental is set to receive a total of P11.07 billion in internal revenue allotment (IRA) funds in 2015, while Negros Oriental would get a total of P5.86 billion, according to data from the Department of Budget and Management.
The Commission on Audit (COA) reported that Negros Occidental generated an income of P2.2 billion in 2013 – making it among the richest provinces in the country – while Negros Oriental earned P1.4 billion.
In terms of poverty, Negros Occidental has an estimated incidence rate of 32.3% of its population (and 24.9% among families), according to the 2012 full-year poverty statistics of the PSA.
Meanwhile, Negros Oriental recorded a higher poverty incidence rate, at 50.1% of its population (and 43.9% among families). The province ranks among the poorest ones in the country.
The governor of Negros Occidental is Alfredo Marañon Jr, who is now on his second term.
Affiliated with the local United Negros Alliance (Unega) party in the 2013 gubernatorial race, Marañon defeated then-Vice Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), the party of political kingmaker Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr. (READ: Can you defy Danding and win in Negros polls?)
Meawhile, the governor of Negros Oriental is Roel Degamo. In 2013, he ran under the PDP-Laban banner and won a second term, beating then-Representative Jocelyn Limkaichong of the Liberal Party (LP), former Finance Secretary Margarito Teves of NPC, and independent candidate Samuel Torres.
Elected the top provincial board member in the 2010 polls, Degamo became governor in January 2011 after the death of then-Governor Agustin Perdices, who himself succeeded governor-elect Emilio Macias II who passed away weeks before he took office in June 2010.
The provinces' respective vice governors belong to opposing parties: Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson belongs to NPC, while Negros Oriental Vice Governor Mark Macias is from LP.
Negros Occidental has 6 legislative districts, plus a separate district for Bacolod City, while Negros Oriental has 3 districts.
The 10 congressmen representing these districts in the House of Representatives are:
- Julio Ledesma IV (1st district; he belongs to the NPC and is now on his 3rd term)
- Leo Rafael Cueva (2nd district; National Unity Party or NUP, 1st term)
- Alfredo Benitez (3rd district; LP, 2nd term)
- Jeffrey Ferrer (4th district; Unega, 3rd term)
- Alejandro Mirasol (5th district; LP, 2nd term)
- Mercedes Alvarez (6th district; NPC, 2nd term)
- Evelio Leonardia (Bacolod City, lone district; NPC, 1st term)
- Manuel Iway (1st district; LP, 1st term)
- George Arnaiz (2nd district; NPC, 3rd term)
- Pryde Henry Teves (3rd district; NPC, 3rd term)
A technical working group (TWG) was constituted via EO 183 to handle the transition process. It is composed of the Office of the President, the Department of Budget and Management, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and representatives from the two Negros provinces.
The TWG will draw up a roadmap for "institutional arrangements" for the new region, and will recommend the preferred regional center. It will also arrange for organizational development, staffing, and budgeting of regional line agencies and regulatory agencies.
The following regional councils were also created for the NIR, with the following agencies as interim secretariats:
- Negros Island Development Council - with NEDA as Secretariat
- Negros Island Peace and Order Council - with the DILG as Secretariat
- Negros Island Disaster Risk Response Management Council - with the Office of Civil Defense as Secretariat