THE Provincial Government of Negros Occidental is expecting the inclusion of the budget for the revival Negros Island Region (NIR) in the 2023 General Appropriations Act.

“An Executive Order (EO) creating the Negros Island Region (NIR) has been done before and the blue print is already there... We just have to revive it and use the same formula,” Provincial Administrator lawyer Rayfrando Diaz II said Monday, June 27, 2022.

“It [the revival of the NIR] will not take much pain as it has already been done before,” he said.

If there is an EO in place, it should be included in the 2023 General Appropriations Act, Diaz added, adding that "social acceptability is beyond question."

"There is a clamor that we want regional offices here on the island in order to facilitate the needs of our people," he said.

When asked if the decrease in National Tax Allocation (NTA) next year will affect the reestablishment of the NIR, Diaz said that what should be planned is the number of personnel needed and how much will their salaries be, among others.

"Another (things to be tackled), where offices will be established (or) are we going to construct buildings or just lease offices," he said.

Diaz saidthe provincial government cannot offer any office space for NIR as the Provincial Capitol Building is already crowded.

But when the Land Transportation Office transfers to Barangay Mansilingan in Bacolod City and the Negros Occidental Language and Information Technology Center (Nolitc) in Talisay City, the province may offer the spaces that they will vacate.

He added that the proposal is for departments under the infrastructure cluster to be located in Bacolod City while those under social services will be in Dumaguete City.

Bacolod Mayor-elect Alfredo Benitez earlier said the renewed call for the revival of the NIR received a much-needed support after President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and incoming Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos committed to support the initiative.

NIR was abolished by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 through an EO two years after it was established also through an EO issued by late President Benigno Aquino III despite appeals from Negros Island officials for its retention.

Benitez said the NIR restoration, through an EO, will be tied over the transition, until the law comes in.

Negros Occidental Third District Representative Jose Francisco Benitez also confirmed an ongoing discussion with Marcos and some members of the Executive Department, especially the Department of the Interior and Local Government, on initial NIR creation through an EO.

Siquijor, which belongs to Central Visayas, expressed its intention to join NIR, the younger Benitez earlier said.

On July 1, Benitez said that all the 11 Negros lawmakers, seven in Negros Occidental, as well as Abang Lingkod Party-list Representative Stephen Joseph Paduano, three other lawmakers in Negros Oriental, and Siquijor Representative Zaldy Villa will jointly file a bill creating NIR.