MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – On May 29, 2015, President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order 183 creating the Negros Island Region (NIR).
Negros Occidental was carved from Region VI (Western Visayas), and Negros Oriental from Region VII (Central Visayas) to form the new region. Its regional center will be determined by a technical working group.
An idea 20 years in the making, the Negros Island Region was created “to further accelerate the social and economic development of the cities and municipalities comprising the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental and improve the delivery of public services in the aforementioned provinces.”
After two years, however, on August 9, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte abolished the region through Executive Order 38.
How did the Negros Island Region look like? Here are some quick figures.
The region has a population of 4,414,131, as of 2015.
Negros Occidental, including its capital Bacolod City, has a population of 3,059,136 living in 13 cities and 19 municipalities, with a combined 662 barangays. Bacolod City, with a population of 561,875, is independent from the province due to its status as a highly-urbanized city.
Negros Oriental has a population of 1,354,995. It has a total of 557 barangays in 6 cities and 19 towns. Dumaguete City is the provincial capital.
Below is a map of the Negros Island Region, with the capital of each province and all the cities highlighted.
According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Hiligaynon or Ilonggo is the language predominantly spoken in Negros Occidental, while Bisaya and Cebuano are the languages used by most people in Negros Oriental.
Economic, poverty data
Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental are both 1st class provinces. Their respective capitals, however, have different income classifications: Bacolod is a 1st class city, while Dumaguete is a 3rd class city.
Negros Occidental is set to receive a total of P13.53 billion in internal revenue allotment (IRA) funds in 2017, while Negros Oriental would get a total of P7.19 billion, according to data from the Department of Budget and Management.
The Commission on Audit (COA) reported that Negros Occidental generated an income of P2.2 billion in 2013 – making it among the richest provinces in the country – while Negros Oriental earned P1.4 billion.
In terms of poverty, Negros Occidental has an estimated incidence rate of 32.3% of its population (and 24.9% among families), according to the 2012 full-year poverty statistics of the PSA.
Meanwhile, Negros Oriental recorded a higher poverty incidence rate, at 50.1% of its population (and 43.9% among families). The province ranks among the poorest ones in the country.
The governor of Negros Occidental is Alfredo Marañon Jr, who is now on his 3rd term. He is affiliated with the local United Negros Alliance (Unega), and ran unopposed in the 2016 elections. He joined the ruling PDP-Laban party after the polls.
Meawhile, the governor of Negros Oriental is Roel Degamo. In 2016, he ran under the National Unity Party (NUP) banner and won a fresh term.
Elected the top provincial board member in the 2010 polls, Degamo became governor in January 2011 after the death of then-Governor Agustin Perdices, who himself succeeded governor-elect Emilio Macias II who passed away weeks before he took office in June 2010.
The provinces’ respective vice governors belong to opposing parties: Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson belongs to the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), while Negros Oriental Vice Governor Mark Macias is from the Liberal Party (LP).
Negros Occidental has 6 legislative districts, plus a separate district for Bacolod City, while Negros Oriental has 3 districts.
The 10 congressmen representing these districts in the House of Representatives are:
- Melecio Yap, Jr (1st district; he belongs to the NPC and is on his 1st term)
- Leo Rafael Cueva (2nd district; NUP, 2nd term)
- Alfredo Benitez (3rd district; PDP-Laban, 3rd term)
- Juliet Marie Ferrer (4th district; NUP, 1st term)
- Alejandro Mirasol (5th district; PDP-Laban, 3rd term)
- Mercedes Alvarez (6th district; NPC, 3rd term)
- Greg Gasataya (Bacolod City, lone district; PDP-Laban, 1st term)
- Jocelyn Limkaichong (1st district; LP, 1st term)
- Manuel Sagarbarria (2nd district; NPC, 1st term)
- Arnulfo Teves (3rd district; PDP-Laban, 1st term)
A technical working group (TWG) was constituted via EO 183 to handle the transition process. It is composed of the Office of the President, the Department of Budget and Management, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and representatives from the two Negros provinces.
The TWG will draw up a roadmap for “institutional arrangements” for the new region, and will recommend the preferred regional center. It will also arrange for organizational development, staffing, and budgeting of regional line agencies and regulatory agencies.
The following regional councils were also created for the NIR, with the following agencies as interim secretariats:
- Negros Island Development Council – with NEDA as Secretariat
- Negros Island Peace and Order Council – with the DILG as Secretariat
- Negros Island Disaster Risk Response Management Council – with the Office of Civil Defense as Secretariat