THE newly-created Negros Island Region (NIR) was officially designated as Region 18 during the first meeting Friday of the Technical Working Group (TWG) presided by Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II at the DILG central office in Quezon City.
Ma. Lina Sanogal, provincial planning and development officer of Negros Occidental, and one of the members of the Occidental panel in the TWG, said that 14 regional offices will hold their interim offices in Negros Occidental while Negros Oriental will temporarily host 16 regional offices.
The regional offices that will be located in Negros Occidental are those of the Agriculture and Land Cluster – Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board.
Peace and Security Cluster – Department of Justice, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense, and Office of the Civil Defense; and Governance Cluster – Department of Budget and Management, National Economic and Development Authority, Commission on Audit, and Commission on Elections.
Agencies that will be located in Negros Oriental are those that belong to the:
Human Development Cluster Department of Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Commission on Higher Education, Civil Service Commission, National Statistical Authority or National Statistics Office, and Professional Regulation Commission.
Industrial and Labor Cluster Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Tourism, and Securities and Exchange Commission.
Infrastructure Cluster. Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation and Communication and offices under it, including the Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and National Telecommunications Commission.
Sanogal said the interim regional offices of NIR will start their operations on October 1, and are expected to be fully operational by January 1, 2016 through the “scrap and build” operation.
She added that Roxas asked the DBM to determine the savings of the regional offices of Western Visayas and Central Visayas minus the budget for the two provinces to be used for the interim regional offices of the NIR. The agencies will assign their respective OIC-regional directors for the NIR.
Roxas also tasked Undersecretary Austere Panadero and the Office of the President to send a memorandum to the national government agencies, formally informing them about the creation of the NIR to guide them in their budget preparations for 2016.
The two provinces are also tasked to start looking for available offices and existing equipment and make a budget to temporarily host the respective regional offices.
Sanogal said it was agreed on Friday that the regional center of Region 18-NIR will be established at the 40-hectare area owned by the Central Philippine University at the boundary of Kabankalan City and Mabinay town.
The setting up of the regional center that will house the regional offices will take three to five years, she said.
President Aquino through an executive order will appoint the chairs of the Regional Development Council and the Regional Peace and Order Council.
The OCD regional director will automatically sit as chair of the Regional Risk Reduction and Management Council.