The Negrense solons are now working on the bill pushing for the re-establishment of Negros Island Region (NIR).

The bill just hurdled the House committee on local government this week and will be moved to the House appropriations committee.

The new region will be composed of provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays located in Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Bacolod City, and Siquijor.

In the proposed measure, a Technical Working Group (TWG) will be formed to formulate a roadmap to put in place the institutional arrangements for the NIR.

The TWG will also recommend to the Office of the President the preferred regional center, arrange the requirements for the organizational development, staffing, and budgeting of regional line and regulatory agencies, as well as the imperatives for the development planning and investment programming.

The TWG will be composed of the Office of the President, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the representatives of the Office of the Governor of the provinces of Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Siquijor, and all the elected members of the House of Representatives of said provinces, including Bacolod City.

Negros Occidental Sixth District Rep. Mercedes Alvarez said Wednesday, January 11, that it is clearly stated in the proposed bill that the funding for the NIR regional offices will come from the existing government agencies.

Alvarez has been appointed as co-chair of the TWG which will prepare a roadmap toward the creation of the NIR.

She also pointed out that the three Negros Oriental congressmen are supporting the bill, which is enough proof that their respective constituents are also favorable to bringing the two Negros provinces into one region.

Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, however, appeared to have a change of heart, as he expressed opposition to the proposed merger citing the cultural differences between the two provinces.

Still, it’s a long road to reality.