Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Dissolution of Negros Island Region displaces workers

THE soon-to-be defunct Negros Island Region (NIR) will lead to the displacement of some government workers in the regional line agencies.

Some of the regional directors confirmed to SunStar Bacolod on Thursday, August 10, that job order (JO) employees and contractual workers of their respective agencies will be affected after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Executive Order (EO) 38 abolishing NIR earlier this week.

However, they assured these workers that they will find ways so they won’t lose their jobs.

Some of the regional directors also said they will propose to retain the NIR offices as satellite offices while some of them are seeking to extend the 60-day winding up of operations given by Duterte.

In its two-year run, the regional offices have notable accomplishments even with limited funding and resources, the regional directors said.

Under NIR, 14 regional offices were housed in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental while 16 others were based in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.

Anthony Nuyda, officer-in-charge of Department of the Interior Local Government (DILG)-NIR, said he has initially talked to his personnel, telling the permanent employees to return to their previous assignments and some of the JOs that they may be displaced.

There are 25 permanent workers and 15 JO employees under the DILG-NIR.

Nuyda said they will try to have the 15 JOs absorbed in the DILG provincial offices in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, and in the regional office in Western Visayas.

He said he talked to these JO workers, who are also open to be transferred in Iloilo.

Nuyda expressed sadness over the NIR abolition, adding that the two provinces have “more coordination” in terms of development and to ensure delivery of basic services.

“With NIR, there’s faster response to local government units and the plan and programs are more integrated,” he added.

Duterte directed the DILG to supervise the reversion of the two provinces – Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental – to its previous regions.

Nuyda said he is still waiting for the DILG central office to come up with the guidelines.

Longer transition period

Livino Duran, head of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-NIR, said he was with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in Dumaguete City when the news came out that the region was already abolished.

He said Cimatu asked him about his plan during the transition period.

Duran said he is seeking to extend the 60-day period until December since they still have deliverables and specific “physical targets” that needed to be accomplished by the end of the year.

He said he will present his transition plan to the DENR executive committee on Monday.

Duran also said the 23 permanent employees will return to their previous assignments while the fate of the 55 contractual workers is not yet known.

He said he will try to have them transferred to the provincial offices or to the regional office, but some may really be displaced.

Duran added that he is open to convert the DENR-NIR office in Bacolod into a satellite office.

Satellite office

Stephen Leonidas, director of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-NIR, said he is also proposing to maintain the regional office in Bacolod as a satellite office.

He said Negros Island has the biggest balance of landholdings nationwide under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with 89,794 hectares regionwide, comprising 71,837 beneficiaries.

They are targeting to distribute 12,392 hectares this year, he added.

Moreover, Leonidas said the regional office has 23 permanent employees, who will be sent back to their previous units while more than 30 JOs maybe dislocated unless they will be absorbed by the two provincial offices.

He also said they are awaiting the directive from the central office before conducting an inventory of the office.

Leonidas said farmers and landowners have positive feedback on the establishment of NIR as the regional office is more accessible in Bacolod compared to the previous set-up, wherein the regional offices are in Iloilo City for Negros Occidental and Cebu City for Negros Oriental.

Joyce Wendam, director of Department of Agriculture (DA)-NIR, said they are also waiting for the DILG to come up with the guidelines for the transition.

She said the DA regional office has 22 permanent employees and 28 JOs.

Wendam said she can’t say yet if the JO workers will be displaced as they are still waiting for the advice of the central office.

She added these JOs are already aware of the EO abolishing NIR.

Gilbert Sadsad, director of Department of Education-NIR, said he directed his personnel to conduct an inventory of their properties to be returned to the Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental offices.

He said there are no displacements of its 35 permanent workers, who will be sent back to their previous divisions.

However, the 10 JOs may be terminated, he added.

Senior Superintendent Petronelli Baldebrin, deputy director for operations of Police Regional Office-18, said there is no order yet from Camp Crame regarding the abolition of the NIR.

Though he said the repositioning of troops is expected as the two provincial police offices will be reverted to its previous regions, Western Visayas and Central Visayas.

On May 29, 2015, former president Benigno Aquino III signed the EO 183, creating NIR, which separated Negros Occidental from Western Visayas and Negros Oriental from Central Visayas, to accelerate social and economic development and improve the delivery of public services.

Two years after, Duterte signed the EO abolishing the region due to lack of funds.

“The establishment of regional offices of departments and agencies in the NIR requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus competing with government priority programs and projects for funding,” the EO stated.
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