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NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – If he wins as president in the May 9 elections, Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II vowed to create a Samar Island Region.
Roxas, along with running mate Leni Robredo and their senatorial bets, were in the province Tuesday, April 26, for various campaign rallies in the cities of Kabankalan, La Carlota, Cadiz, and Bacolod.
In a press conference at La Carlota City, Roxas said he would continue to support Negros Island Region, as it brought economic gains for the two Negros provinces. (READ: FAST FACTS: The Negros Island Region)
President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order 183 in May 2015, creating the Negros Island Region or Region 18.
Roxas said that the creation of the NIR has helped in the progress and development of Negros, which is why the people of Samar want a new region as well.
"So ngayon, nananawagan din ang mga Samareño na kinakailangan [ng Samar region]. Ang layo-layo, tatawirin nila ‘yung San Juanico Strait para pumunta pa sa Tacloban, mag-follow-up ng mga papeles. Isa ‘yan sa mga dahilan kung bakit isa sa pinakamahirap na rehiyon, isa sa pinakamahirap na island sa buong Pilpinas, ‘yung Samar Island na binubuo ng Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, at saka Western Samar," he said.
(Now, those from Samar are calling for [their own region]. They have to cross the San Juanico strait to get to Tacloban just to follow up on documents. That's one of the reasons why it's one of the poorest regions, one of the poorest islands in the whole Philippines – Samar island made up of Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and Western Samar.)
He said the creation of the new region had been suggested to him and he had accepted the challenge.
"Tinatanggap ko ‘yan bilang kabahagi ng ating plataporma sa Daang Matuwid, ‘yung pagsasagawa ng Samar Island Region para nakatutok sa Samar tulad ng pagtutok dito sa Negros yung mga gawain ng Regional Development Council, ng Regional Peace and Order Council, at ng iba pang mga pulong na cross-border between provinces," he added.
(I accept that [challenge] to create the Samar Island Region as part of the platform of the Straight Path, so that focus will be Samar – as it is now the case of Negros – when it comes to the work of the Regional Development Council, the Regional Peace and Order Council, and other cross-border agencies between provinces.)
Samar belongs to Eastern Visayas or Region 8, which has 6 provinces: Samar, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, and Southern Leyte. Tacloban City, the capital of Leyte, is the region's administrative center.
Meanwhile, the draft proclamation creating the Negros Island regional center in Kabankalan City is already in the office of President Benigno Aquino III.
Al Orolfo, director of Department of Environment and Natural Resources-18 (DENR-18), said his office has endorsed the draft to Malacañang Thursday, April 21.
The 500-hectare site, which is part of the Central Philippines State University property, “couldn’t be used without the national government proclaiming it as the regional center.”
The creation of the regional center needs a Presidential Proclamation for approval, said Orolfo
The area is expected to become developed once the regional centers are established in the boundaries of Kabankalan in Negros Occidental and Mabinay town in Negros Oriental in 3 years.
Currently, 16 regional offices hold their interim offices in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental while Bacolod City in Negros Occidental temporarily houses 14 regional offices.
Earlier, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr said he will ask the President to prioritize to the establishment of the new regional site in Kabankalan City. – Rappler.com