THE Provincial Government of Negros Occidental honored the outgoing directors of regional line agencies of Negros Island Region (NIR) at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City Friday, September 29.
The message “Thank you NIR directors” was seen at the venue’s screen projector.
The regional offices under Negros Island will shut down their operations on October 9, or 60 days after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 38 abolishing the region.
With the abolition of NIR, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental will revert to Western Visayas and Central Visayas, respectively.
In his message, Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said it took more than 20 years for the Negrenses to have their dreams realized.
“You can imagine how happy we were two years ago when then President Aquino (Benigno Aquino III) established NIR, he said.
He added: “Immediately, regional directors were assigned here and regional offices were established. The work started, we hit the ground running.”
The vice governor recalled that during the development council meetings, they started to believe that great things will happen – that NIR will soon be one of the progressive regions in the country.
“When we finally got the news (of its abolition), to say the least, it’s very disappointing,” Lacson said.
However, the vice governor remained optimistic as he urged the Negrense leaders to “stick to the plan.”
“Yes, we will continue to stick to the plan. We will continue to coordinate with Negros Oriental, work together and implement the plans we created,” Lacson said.
He thanked the regional directors and their staff “for being there” during the birth pains.
Lacson said that Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., who missed the fellowship dinner as he was not feeling well, thought of this despedida (farewell) to show the regional directors “how we appreciate how you guide us, shepherd us from the start.”
He also asked the outgoing NIR directors that “if you are in a position to bring progress to Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, please do so. We will be forever indebted to you.”
National Economic and Development Authority (Neda)-NIR Director Efren Carreon recalled he was the one who presided the Regional Development Council (RDC) when it was first convened on December 2015.
He added it was an honor and privilege.
Carreon also said that he didn’t expect the Provincial Government will host a fellowship dinner.
“It touched our hearts, given this kind of acknowledgement. We didn’t expect this recognition. Part of our job is to deliver the services expected of us,” he said.
Carreon, who is the concurrent director of Neda-Central Visayas, said that his stint in Negros Island is “the most meaningful period of my government service.
He said he met a lot of nice people in Negros.
“That’s one of the factors that made my work in NIR a little bit easier despite we have a lot of constraints, like limited personnel, limited budget and no budget at all,” he added.
Carreon assured the Negrenses that his office and his counterpart in Western Visayas will continue to work for the development of NIR.
“We are in agreement that we will pursue the common government agenda in the two provinces...Both RDCs will continue to push for those development projects,” he said.
Most of the development programs are road networks because of the connectivity of the two provinces and economic projects like tourism circuit to “connect” and “enhance” the tourist destination, he said.
Anthony Nuyda, concurrent head of DILG in NIR and Western Visayas, said there was no displacement of contractual workers under the NIR offices.
“The agencies tried to accommodate everyone until December. If there is a fund next year, they will also continue,” he said.
On the proposal of some regional offices to extend the transition period until December, Nuyda said it’s the decision of the agencies.
“They can maintain the NIR office as satellite office of their agency. They are allowed to establish as needed,” he added.
Chief Superintendent Edmund Gonzales, director of Police Regional Office- (PRO)-NIR, said they will hold their turnover ceremony on October 6 at Camp Alfredo Montelibano Sr. in Bacolod City.
He said the affected PRO-NIR personnel, including him, are still waiting for the order of their next assignments.
Gonzales added that he will return to Camp Crame while waiting for his next deployment.
He also said that the affected 11 senior superintendents, most of them division chiefs, have already applied for vacancies in some units of other regions.
Gonzales said that PRO-NIR, in terms of accomplishment, has done a good job as there was a decrease in crime volume and significant anti-drug operations.