Interim offices of new Negros region open in October
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – The interim regional offices of the newly-created Negros Island Region (NIR) is expected to start partial operations in October, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II announced on Friday, June 19.
The temporary regional offices – which will be in Bacolod City in Negros Occidental and Dumaguete in Negros Oriental – should be fully operational by January 2016, Roxas said.
Roxas presided on Monday the first meeting of the NIR-Technical Working Group at the central office of the Department of the Interior and Local Government in Manila, where local officials Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, as well as representatives of various national agencies, were present.
The TWG is composed of the Office of the President, the Department of Budget and Management, the National Economic Development Authority, DILG, and representatives of the two Negros provinces led by governors Alfredo Marañon Jr of Negros Occidental and Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental.
With the creation of Negros Island Region, Negros Occidental was separated from Western Visayas, or Region VI, with regional offices in Iloilo City. Negros Oriental was carved out of Central Visayas, or Region VII, with regional offices in Cebu City.
The NIR – to be also known as Region XVIII – has a population of 4.5 million.
Roxas directed the national agencies to appoint acting regional directors so they can start working on the Regional Development Plan for the Regional Development Council.
Regional offices from Western Visayas and Central Visayas were also asked to allocate their savings and personnel to the Negros Island Region, the 18th region in the country, as one province was taken out from their respective regions.
The Department of Budget and Management was also tasked by Roxas to make initial calculations on the budget for Personel Services and Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) for the new region.
They were given until June 30 to come up with their plans. The TWG's next meeting was set for July, according to a transcript of Roxas' interview after the meeting.
Roxas said that the new region will now have a coordinated development planning, unlike in the previous setup, where they belonged to different regions.
Negros Occidental has a 50% poverty rating, while Negros Oriental has 35%, according to the National Statistics and Coordination Board.
The local government secretary said there will be a coherent and integrated planning for infrastructure, like dams, power, roads, and bridges. The same would be true for the security sector, with the new region having its own armed forces and police regional commands.
He further said the delivery of services will be faster since residents will no longer be at the mercy of sea travel when they need to transact business in the regional offices. “By land, they can already access their regional offices,” Roxas said.
Governors pick regional offices
Both Marañon and Degamo, who picked their preferred regional offices, were satisfied with the “very fruitful” meeting.
“We divided the offices and decided which national agencies will be put up in our provinces,” Marañon said.
The following interim regional offices will be in Negros Oriental:
- Human Development cluster A (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health and Commission on Higher Education)
- Human Development cluster B (Civil Service Commission, Philippine Statistics Authority, and Professional Regulation Commission)
- Infrastructure cluster (Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation and Communications and attached agencies, including Land Transportation Office, Maritime Industry Authority, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and National Telecommunications Commission)
- Industry and Labor cluster (Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Tourism, Department of Science and Technology, and Securities and Exchange Commission)
The interim regional offices that will be in Negros Occidental are:
- Agriculture and Land-related cluster (Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agrarian Reform and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board)
- Peace and Security cluster (Department of Justice and attached agencies, including National Bureau of Investigation)
- Department of the Interior and Local Government and attached agencies, including Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Philippine National Police, Department of National Defense and Office of Civil Defense)
- Governance cluster A (DILG and agencies attached to local government sector, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, and National Economic and Development Authority)
- Government cluster B (Commission on Audit and Commission on Elections)
Negros Occidental Planning and Development Officer Marlin Sanogal said parties agreed during the meeting that the permanent regional buildings will be put up at the boundaries of the two provinces.
The Central Philippines State University is offering 25 to 50 hectares in Barangay Tagukon, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, for the regional center. The site is 10 meters away from Mabinay town, Negros Oriental.
She said the DBM has been tasked by Roxas to come up with an estimate of the cost of building the regional center. – Rappler.com