MANILA, Philippines – Citing lack of funds, President Rodrigo Duterte dissolved the Negros Island Region (NIR) created by the previous administration.
Executive Order (EO) No. 38, signed by Duterte on Monday, August 7, revokes EO No. 138 signed by former president Benigno Aquino III which created the NIR.
The new EO reverts the provinces of Negros Occidental to Western Visayas (Region VI) and Negros Oriental to Central Visayas (Region VII).
JUST IN: #PresidentDuterte signs EO dissolving Negros Island Region. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/6JUTT5lWm8 — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) August 9, 2017
The NIR regional offices are now abolished, with their personnel ordered to return to their previous assignments or reassigned to other offices in their department or agency.
Duterte's EO states that there is not enough funding for the NIR given other priorities of the administration.
"The establishment of regional offices (ROs) of departments and agencies in the NIR requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus competing with government priority programs and projects for funding," reads the document.
Duterte had already made the decision to dissolve the island region in a Cabinet meeting on October 3, 2016.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had then told the President that the NIR came with a too heavy price tag.
"When we came in, I was confronted with a P19-billion request by various agencies for that new region. I said, that's not affordable, we have other priorities," Diokno told reporters back then.
The NIR was supposed to have been a legacy of the Aquino administration. Its creation had been endorsed by then interior secretary Manuel Roxas II, whose family hails from Negros Occidental. His mother Judy Araneta-Roxas hails from Bago City.
Creating a region for the two adjacent provinces, according to Aquino's EO, is needed to accelerate social and economic development and improve the delivery of public services. (READ: Save Negros Island Region, local officials ask Duterte)
The governors of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, Alfred Marañon Jr and Roel Degamo, respectively, supported Roxas' presidential bid in 2016. The Liberal Party standard-bearer won in both provinces, while Duterte placed second.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.