BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Ten lawmakers from the Negros Island Region (NIR) wrote President Rodrigo Duterte on October 10, asking him to reconsider his decision to dissolve the newly created region.
The letter was dated a day before Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno told reporters that the executive order abolishing the NIR was now awaiting the signature of the President.
NIR was excluded from the 2017 national budget because Diokno said funding it would be too costly for the Duterte administration, which has other priorities.
In their letter, 7 congressmen from Negros Occidental and 3 from Negros Oriental told the President they were “already on the right track towards achieving our two decades old dream of a unified Negros provinces to fast-track development through an integrated ecosystems-based planning and program implementation.”
“Since last year, over 35 national government agencies and attached bureaus have already set up their interim regional offices in Bacolod and Dumaguete Cities and are just waiting for their [operating funds] to be released, with DBM [Department of Budget and Management] ready with their separate account codes,” the lawmakers said.
The EO that unified the 2 Negros provinces was signed by then President Benigno Aquino III on August 6, 2015, upon the recommendation of then Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. (READ: Fast facts: The Negros Island Region)
Roxas ran against Duterte in the 2016 presidential polls. Roxas won in the two Negros provinces.
Councils in place
The new region already has working regional councils, the lawmakers said in their letter to Duterte.
The Philippine Statistical Authority has also started generating for NIR, which has been assigned to its own code, as well as separate statistical data based on the 2015 census of population to help facilitate the formulation of plans, programs and projects, they added.
The lawmakers who signed the letter to the President are: Representatives Greg Gasataya of Bacolod City; Melecio Yap Jr. of Negros Occidental’s 1st District; Leo Cueva of the 2nd District; Alfredo Benitez of the 3rd District; Juliet Ferrer of the 4th District; Alejandro Mirasol of the 5th District; and Mercedes Alvarez-Lansang of the 6th District. The representatives from Negros Oriental who signed the letter are Jocelyn Sy-Limkaichong of the 1st District; Manuel Sagarbarria of the 2nd District; and Arnulfo Teves of the 3rd District.
If the President signs the EO dissolving the NIR, the “status quo” remains, with services to be provided to Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental by the regions they previously belonged to, Diokno earlier said.
He allayed fears this would stunt development in the region, saying “new technology” would enable the speedy provision of government services to these provinces. – Rappler.com