HOUSE Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Thursday, September 15, that he will look into the possibility of including Negros Island Region in the 2017 appropriation of the National Government.
“I think the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) has expressed their reservation for the full implementation (of the executive order creating NIR), but it doesn’t mean we’re not going to totally implement (the EO),” he added.
Alvarez assured Negrenses that the EO will not be revoked and NIR is here to stay.
However, he reiterated that they also have to look at the concerns of DBM.
“If there is no enough funds, that is a problem,” he added.
Alvarez added: “I-review natin, if sabihin ng DBM mayroon tayong pera, why not? If wala naman, huwag natin pilitin. (Let’s review it. If DBM says that there are still funds, why not? If none, let’s not force it.”
The creation of NIR through EO, which was signed by former President Benigno Aquino III, separated Negros Occidental from Western Visayas, or Region 6, with regional offices in Iloilo City, and Negros Oriental from Central Visayas, or Region 7, with regional offices in Cebu City.
The NIR funding for next year is still included in the budgets of the previous regions of the two provinces.
NIR is seeking a P42-million budget for 2017.
Governors Alfredo Marañon Jr. of Negros Occidental and Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental had been lobbying for the NIR budget. They also met with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, but the meeting did not yield a positive result, prompting them to seek another meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Alvarez said it is better to have a law creating the NIR.
For his part, third district Representative Alfredo Benitez said that passing a legislative act creating the NIR should be “in conjunction with the proposed federal form of government, if it jibes and in consonance with the proposed federalism delineation.”
He said that a legislation won’t be necessary as it can done through federalism set-up.
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said the foundation of NIR will be stronger if it will go through a legislative act in the Congress.
“Unlike the EO which can be repealed by the present or future administrations,” he added. “We will try to get as many support. I hope they will understand our position.”
‘In panic mode’
Meanwhile, Alvarez assailed Senator Leila de Lima, who leads the Senate committee inquiry on extrajudicial killings, when she presented Thursday witness Edgar Matobato, who implicated President Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the alleged existence of Davao Death Squad.
Alvarez called Matobato as a “recycled witness,” as they have already presented him before.
He added that it is a “preemptive” move of de Lima, who will be the subject of House inquiry on the proliferation of illegal drugs under her watch, when she was the Justice secretary for six years.
Alvarez said the senator is in “panic” mode since the House inquiry will start next week.
“If indeed there was a crime committed based on their investigation, they should have filed the case when she was still the Justice Secretary,” he said. “I’m from Davao. That DDS they are saying, it doesn’t exist.”
“The only DDS I know is Diehard Duterte Supporters and I’m a member of DDS,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 16, 2016.
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