BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – As the Technical Working Group finalizes the implementing rules and regulations of the newly-created Negros Island Region, Negros Oriental officials are seeking equal representation in the Regional Development Council.
Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo aired this concern at the first TWG meeting at the office of the Department of the Interior and Local Government in Manila, which was presided by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II on Friday, June 19.
Degamo said everything he wanted was in the final draft of the IRR, except for one matter that needed to be addressed.
“The voting for the RDC. The Oriental side recommended a block voting for mayors in cities so there will be equal representation and it will be fair,” he said.
He explained that there are 13 cities in Negros Occidental while there are only 6 in Negros Oriental. He said that block voting would mean that all votes of the city mayors would be equivalent to one vote. (READ: FAST FACTS: The Negros Island Region)
“Thirteen votes are equivalent to one, and 6 votes will also be equivalent to one. We will insist on this,” Degamo added.
He said he expects this issue to be ironed out in the next meeting, scheduled in the first week of July.
Vice Governor Edward Mark Macias supported the stand of his governor. “We’re always outvoted in RDC-7. That’s our experience.”
Negros Oriental used to be part of Central Visayas or Region 7, prior to the creation of Negros Island Region.
“We just want to set the ground rules,” Macias said, as he pointed out that Negros Occidental is bigger than Negros Oriental.
He stressed that “nothing has been decided yet” as it would be discussed at the next meeting.
Macias said Roxas asked DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero to “study its [block voting’s] legalities.”
He also clarified that he has nothing against Negros Occidental. He said that Negros Oriental officials have already chosen their preferred regional offices to open in Dumaguete City.
“We presented our choices to Governor Marañon and then he was very gracious about it. There was no haggling anymore.” He said that the Occidental side picked the remaining 4 of the 8 clusters.
“That’s a noble act on the [part of the] Occidental officials. We [just] have issues because we’re smaller [compared to Occidental],” he said.
The interim offices are expected to be partially operational in October in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental; and Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. and fully operational in January next year. – Rappler.com