RECENTLY, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno raised the hackles of Negrense officialdom when he railed against the Negros Island Region (NIR).
According to Diokno, “the NIR could not be considered as a region as it only comprises two provinces, instead of three.”
If that’s the case, then the National Government should abolish the National Capital Region because it’s…not a region.
It’s 17 component local government units (LGUs) are all cities, not provinces: Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Pateros, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela.
Then in Region I, Ilocos Region, we have Dagupan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan. One city and four provinces.
Let’s go to the Visayas, to Western Visayas, the former home of Negros Occidental. It has Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Iloilo City. Five provinces and one city.
How about Central Visayas, Region VII? It has Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, and Siquijor. Three highly-urbanized cities and three provinces.
Eastern Visayas, Region VIII? We get Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Ormoc, Samar Southern Leyte, and Tacloban. Two cities and six provinces.
And the Negros Island Region, Region XVIII? We have Bacolod City, Negros Occidental and Oriental. One highly-urbanized city and two provinces.
These highly-urbanized cities in the regional groupings are independent component cities, not under the jurisdiction of any Provincial Government.
That’s why I vote for city officials of Bacolod but I cannot vote for the provincial officials of Negros Occidental. The City of Smiles is not under Negros Occidental. You might say, I’m a Bacoleño, not a Negrense who lives in Negros Island.
I agree with Governor Alfredo Marañon: “We thought all along that budgetary requirements was the primary basis of his opposition to the NIR. But, today he was citing its constitutionality.” Diokno is venturing into a different territory, beyond his role as the DBM secretary.
Frankly, the issue probably is neither budgetary nor constitutionality of NIR. Despite having affiliated himself with the Duterte presidency, Governor Marañon has indelibly branded himself as a Aquino-Roxas loyalist.
Thus, Secretary Diokno’s opinion reeks of politics. Nothing more, nothing less. The other reasons are poor excuses for arguments against NIR.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 08, 2017.
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