PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet have again put off the discussion about the Negros Island Region (NIR) during their meeting Monday.

Interior and Local Government Undersecretary for Public Safety Jesus Hinlo Jr., in a text message, said Tuesday the fate of the region was not tackled because Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno was out of the country.

“The NIR issue was not taken up in the Cabinet meeting because Secretary Sueno traveled to Austria,” Hinlo said.

He said he doesn’t know yet if it will be tackled in the next Cabinet meeting.

Sueno’s office, with the help of various agencies, is preparing a “strong defense” for the NIR to convince Duterte and other Cabinet officials to retain the region.

Sueno had earlier said that more Cabinet officials have expressed their support to NIR as he remained optimistic that the region will be retained.

Former president Benigno Aquino III signed the executive order creating NIR on May 29, 2015, which separated Negros Occidental from Western Visayas and Negros Oriental, from Central Visayas.