Negros Occidental

Southern Negros Occidental city eyes to ‘benefit most’ from NIR bill push

Reymund Titong

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Southern Negros Occidental city eyes to ‘benefit most’ from NIR bill push

SINULOG FESTIVAL. An individual belonging to a tribal group dances on the street while carrying a statue of Santo Niño during the 2024 Sinulog de Kabankalan Festival.

Photo courtesy of Binhi Production

Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental hopes that if the Negros Island Region bill is signed into law, it will improve the city's local economy and attract investors

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The Negros Island Region (NIR) bill, which passed the Senate’s third and final reading on Tuesday, March 12, is eyed to bring positive economic impact in Kabankalan City, dubbed as the “center city of the south” in Negros Occidental, once it becomes a law.

Sixth district board member Jeffrey Tubola said if the NIR bill will be signed into law, the city would be attractive to some local and foreign investors, which could improve the city’s local economy. 

Tubola said people could converge easily and conduct business in the city because of its central location, which makes it accessible to those from the Oriental side of Negros and southernmost of the Occidental province.

Kabankalan City is located 100 kilometers south of Bacolod, the provincial capital of Negros Occidental; and approximately 116 kilometers northwest of Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental. 

Tourism boost

Tubola said the city is currently working on its tourism destinations and attractions that would also entice both local and international tourists to visit the southern Negros city. 

Kabankalan City Tourism Officer-Designate Engineer Randy Siason told Rappler on March 14 that the Senate’s passage of the NIR bill was another significant moment for the city and the island, as it would save residents from having to travel offshore and visit regional offices of various government agencies just to process important documents, including the renewal of licenses. 

With the current set-up, almost of the regional offices of various government agencies in Negros Occidental are located in Iloilo City, while the regional offices of Negros Oriental and Siquijor are primarily located in Cebu City. To go to these offices, people must take a ferry boat. 

Siason said residents of the island would save time and money if regional offices will be located just right at the heart of the island, which brings Kabankalan to the picture. 

Siason further seeks to enhance the city’s tourism development plan and stimulate its tourism circuit, which combines a variety of dining options, tourist sites, and destinations into one package for visitors who would like to explore the natural marvels of the city. 

Some destinations that visitors can visit include, the Balicaocao Highland Resort, Mag-aso Leisure Camp, Tagukon Agricultural Tramline, Carol-an Valley, and Udlom Cave, Siason said.

Siason added that the city will also be venturing more into tourism as one of the city’s economic drivers, seeing the trend that thousands of tourists start visiting the city due to its attractions. 

The city is also the home to the Sinulog festival, which annually attracts thousands residents from nearby towns and cities in the province.


Various business groups in the province have expressed their support for the passage of the bill at the Senate level. It’s projected to attract investments, projects, and other developments benefitting not just the Oriental and Occidental provinces of Negros, but also the island province of Siquijor. 

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri who was born in Kabankalan City, said the passage of the bill at the Senate level was “a promise fulfilled,” as it has been a long overdue plan of linking the three provinces into one region. 

Negros Oriental Governor Chaco Sagabarria also showed support for the senate’s passage of the NIR bill, which for him advantageous to the provinces of Negros Island and said that the relationship would not affect their relationship with the provinces under the Central Visayas. 

With 22 affirmative votes, and no objections or abstentions, the approved Senate Bill No. 2507, or the bill creating the Negros Island Region, will be transmitted next to the Office of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for his approval. –

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