SENATOR Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, chairman of the senate committee on local government, approved several bills seeking to establish the Negros Island Region (NIR), which is expected to cover the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.

“Malinaw po ang pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan sa Negros Occidental at Negros Oriental na gawing isang rehiyon ang Negros Island upang mas mapabilis at mailapit ang mga serbisyo ng national government sa kanila (the necessity of the people of Negros Occidental and Oriental to make the island into one region is imminent in order for them to have an easy access on national government services),” he said in a statement.

While rightsizing is a priority of the current administration, Ejercito, whose mother hails from Bacolod City, said these bills are necessary for boosting the efficiency of service delivery in the area and providing convenience for the region’s residents.

The said bills include Ejercito’s Senate Bill No. 1236, Senate president Juan Miguel Zubiri’s Senate Bill No. 89, Senator Win Gatchalian’s Senate Bill No. 812, Senator Ramon Revilla Jr.’s Senate Bill No. 1422, and Senator Manuel Lapid’s Senate Bill No. 1469.

Zubiri, whose father hails from Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, said there is growing clamor for the establishment of the NIR since residents of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental still have to travel to either Iloilo or Cebu to transact with the regional offices of several national government agencies.

“It’s the ease of doing business for government transactions (and) I don’t think it’s going to cost us more to revive the NIR, because it has been done for several years,” he stressed.

For his part, Majority Floor Leader Joel Villanueva vowed to schedule the bills for second reading “as soon as the committee report reaches his office.”

In 2015, the NIR was established through Executive Order No. 183. It was later abolished in 2017 through Executive Order No. 38.