Negros for the Negrenses

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Monday, March 3, 2014


NEGROS for the Negrenses. And Cebuano Senator Serge Osmeña agrees.
Mr. Osmeña says that he will author a counterpart bill in the Senate seeking the creation of a one-island region for Negros.
Both Negros provinces are married to different regions. Negros Occidental is attached to Region VI (Western Visayas), while Negros Oriental belongs to Region VII (Central Visayas).

The province has the endorsement of our representatives. Reps. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez and Mercedes Álvarez are in the loop, with the latter tasked to prepare the bill for the Negros Island region.

The Occidental side has affinity with the Hiligaynon speaking Ilonggos while the Oriental side, with the Cebuano speaking people of Cebu.

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If a Negros Island-region is created it will be easier to transact business, insists Osmeña. Why that is so is a bit murky.

As it now stands, travel to Iloilo takes an hour ride via fast craft. Bacolod to Kabankalan as the proposed regional center takes two hours by bus – an hour difference.

But of course, there are the travel expenses to think of, as the senator pointed out. But that’s saving of a few hundred pesos, and will depend on what bus or bus is taken. Aircon buses are more expensive, almost the same as that of the fast crafts.

Before, the argument is the 2005 historic signing between then Occidental Governor Joseph Marañon and Oriental Governor George Arnaiz to make the whole island the organic food bowl of Asia.

With the promotion of the Negros organic food bowl concept under then Gov. Joseph Marañon, it made more sense to get the political administrative acts under one roof. One industry, one island.

Earlier this year, I made a case for a proposal to the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit for the Organik na Negros! Organic Producers and Retailers Association (Onopra) on developing the value chain in the organic industry.

DA Regional Technical Director Joyce Wendam not only endorsed the proposal, she requested Onopra to expand its mandate to include the rest of Western Visayas as well.

When I was a member of the Regional Development Council, I noticed that the cards are stacked in favor of the Iloilo-based civil society organizations. We could count by the fingers those who came from Negros Occidental, despite the fact that we have NGOs in here.
I felt that Negros should better stick to Negros Island among our own. Now I’m torn.

Negros Occidental now plays a key and crucial role in the organic movement. And the Region acknowledges that. RTD Wendam in fact wants Onopra to target not just Region 6 but the whole country. What an endorsement and recognition of the work we’re doing in the province!

I hope Rep. Chedeng Álvarez can write a more compelling argument for making a case for Negros for the Negrenses other than what has been presented so far.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 03, 2014.

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