Negros Island Region

Marcos gov’t urged to prioritize creation of int’l airport, seaport in Negros region

Erwin Delilan

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Marcos gov’t urged to prioritize creation of int’l airport, seaport in Negros region

NEW REGION. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signs the law creating a Negros Island Region on June 13, 2024.

Presidential Communications Office

A lawmaker believes the creation of an international airport and seaport for the Negros Island Region would be key to spurring economic growth

BACOLOD, Philippines – After President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed into law the creation of a separate Negros Island Region (INC), the business sector in Negros Occidental voiced out its top wishes: the establishment of an international airport and seaport, and stable on-island power supply.

“Being an NIR now, we will be losing the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Iloilo Airport of International Standards, and Cebu International Port as well,” Frank Carbon, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said on Thursday, June 13.

“So, we need to prioritize now having our own NIR international airport and seaport the soonest,” he added.

Carbon believes the Bacolod-Silay Airport in Silay City is best suited to be upgraded into an international airport, and that an international seaport can be built in Bacong in Negros Oriental due to its deep waters that would meet international standards.

Negros Occidental 5th District Representative Dino Yulo agreed with Carbon’s suggestions.

“International airport and port are a must for NIR,” he said, adding that such points of entry would be crucial for the transportation of goods, boosting the new region’s economy.

Carbon also said another thing to look into is a stable power supply for the region, which has a generating capacity of 300 megawatts.

He also pointed out that the NIR needs at least a 69- to 138-kiloVolt (KV) backbone in a loop of grid transmission so that the region won’t have to rely on the present 230-kV Cebu-Negros-Panay (CPN) backbone transmission project of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.

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Welcoming Siquijor

Carbon sees a promising future for the province of Siquijor, believing it could become the next Boracay, the world-renowned tourist destination in Western Visayas known for pristine white sand beaches.

“Siquijor is one splendid island full of potentials to be the next tourism haven just waiting to be discovered,” Carbon said.

Former Negros Occidental governor Rafael Coscolluela, who was once part of the inception of NIR, hopes that the first Regional Development Council (RDC) meeting of NIR would be held in Siquijor province.

“This is to make Siquijodnons feel that they’re part of NIR now,” Coscolluela said.

A Negros Island Region was first established in 2015 under the administration of the late former president Benigno Aquino III through an executive order, but Siquijor was not yet part of the NIR at the time.

In 2017, Aquino’s successor Rodrigo Duterte revoked the order in 2017 due to lack of funding, dissolving the region.

Today, the law signed by Marcos says NIR is made up of Negros Occidental and the highly urbanized city of Bacolod in Western Visayas, and Negros Oriental and Siquijor in Central Visayas.

Marcos has made the creation of the NIR a priority measure, saying that the new law will expedite the delivery of government services, an issue that people on the island have grappled with, as the two provinces belonged to different regions.

Getting down to the nitty-gritty

A technical working group to be formed 15 days after the law was signed will iron out details of the institutional arrangement for NIR.

Important decisions that need to be made include the location of key government offices.

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson is offering a five-hectare provincial lot in Talisay City for regional branches of national government agencies, while Carbon wants them in Kabankalan.

Congressman Yuo also reminded the provincial governments of Negros Occidental and Oriental to revisit their respective Gross National Product as they will be separating from their original regions.

“It’s important for two provinces to take a look at their respective economic viability right there and then at the start of their separation from their former regions,” Yulo added. – Rappler.com

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