NEGROS Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said on Friday that Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II is supporting the proposed Negros Island Region (NIR).

He added they are hoping Roxas will announce his support during the opening of the 22nd Panaad sa Negros Festival on Monday, April 13, where he is the guest of honor and speaker.

“I cannot anticipate what he will announce, but the Secretary supports the NIR," Marañon said.

Officials of Negros Oriental have also confirmed their attendance during the Panaad Festival with the theme, "One Island, One Dream," which Marañon said is very significant to the NIR, which he is advocating.

All documents, including resolutions of the local leagues of local officials, the business sector, and all other stakeholders, have been submitted by the province to the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Roxas will make the recommendation to President Benigno S. Aquino III on the NIR creation which only needs an executive order from Malacañang.

Negros Occidental is part of Region 6 with regional offices located in Iloilo City while Oriental belongs to Region 7 with its regional center in Cebu City.

Marañon said that traveling to and from the regional centers to attend meetings and conferences entail a lot of cost for government employees and ordinary people.

People from Negros traveling to either Cebu or Iloilo also face the possibility of getting stranded during bad weather as ferry services are being cancelled.

“That’s only one of the disadvantages. There are more advantages than disadvantages under the one island region,” Marañon pointed out.

Differences in the language is not a problem at all as shown by studies because many Negrenses in the Occidental side can speak and understand Cebuano, and many Oriental residents also speak and understand Hiligaynon.