MANILA (Updated) -- President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) abolishing the Negros Island Region (NIR), more than two years after it was created by his predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III.
EO 38 signed by Duterte on August 7, revoked the EO 183 that created the NIR on May 29, 2015.
Under EO 183, the two provinces in Negros Island -- Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental -- have been placed under the same region, which was called NIR.
Former Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II expressed dismay over Duterte's decision to dissolve the NIR.
"I am disappointed that the Negros Island Region did not proceed. There would have been a lot of benefits if it pushed through," Roxas said in Hiligaynon through a social media post.
"With NIR dissolution, mga Negrense will be traveling farther and spending more for services and Negros Occidental and Oriental development will be slower," he added.
EO 183 created the NIR "to further accelerate the social and economic development of the cities and municipalities comprising the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, and improve the delivery of public services in the aforementioned provinces."
Duterte said the creation of NIR is "competing with the government priority programs and projects for funding," as the substantial appropriation is needed for it to be fully operational.
In October last year, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michale Diño said the NIR would be reverted to its previous regional groupings because the government lacks P19-billion fund for the establishment of the new region.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno likewise said last year that it would be "useless" to spend multi-billion pesos for the NIR since the Duterte administration is proposing a federal form of government.
Under EO 38, Duterte ordered that Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental be reverted to Western Visayas and Central Visayas, respectively.
The President designated the Department of Interior and Local Government to oversee the reversion of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental to their previous states.
He also instructed all existing personnel of NIR's regional offices to return to their previous units of deployment, or be reassigned to other offices within their respective departments or agencies.
He said the operations of regional offices under NIR should be terminated not later than 60 days from the effectivity of the EO. (With Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo/SunStar Philippines)