A one-island region

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By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Monday, May 19, 2014


NEGROS Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon believes that the island of Negros should be a self-contained region of government. The present divisions of Regions 6, 7, 8 [Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas] is admittedly geographically clumsy but it makes reasonable sense from a population point of view.

Regionalization is mainly for the benefit of central government instrumentalities and is not seen by central government as being necessarily compatible with provinces.

The current situation is that Region 6 consists of Panay and Negros Occidental and Region 7 Negros Oriental, Cebu, Bohol. I believe that Governor Marañon’s suggestion would be to convert Regions 6 and 7 into three Regions: Panay, Negros, Cebu/Bohol.

The downside is that the offices of central government in the regions are costly and having three regions for Western and Central Visayas would be a large additional expenditure. An extra 50 percent over the current Region 6 and 7 offices would not be too wide of the mark.

The benefits of having Negros Island comprising one region are clear but are difficult to quantify.

The details of potential infrastructure projects which affect both Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental are more easily identified.

An important aspect which gives support to Governor Marañon’s proposal is that Iloilo City is the de facto capital of Region 6 and benefits greatly from the government offices there. In comparison, Bacolod City is grossly underrepresented in terms of government offices. There are economic losses to Bacolod due to the lack of government offices and associated jobs. There is also the inconvenience to residents of Negros Occidental who have to make the sea trip to reach the appropriate office. In this regard, however, there are improvements. In previous years obtaining a passport necessitated a trip to Iloilo but now this is no longer necessary.

The lack of development of Bacolod which is now well behind Iloilo is a cause for concern. This is exemplified by the awarding to Iloilo, but not Bacolod, of some meetings for the Asian Economic Conference in 2015. Bacolod desperately needs a large (over 500 rooms) first class hotel. L’Fisher is a fine hotel but too small for large-scale international meetings.

We wish Governor Marañon well in his bid for a one-island region.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 19, 2014.

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