AFTER Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. declared his support for the expected presidential bid of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, his counterpart in Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo also expressed support to Roxas’ candidacy in the May 2016 elections.
Degamo was joined by Vice Governor Edward Mark Macias in declaring support for Roxas.
"I like the position of Secretary Mar on the (proposed) one-island region that's why I will support him in 2016 even if we do not belong to one party," Degamo said.
Roxas met with Negrense officials led by Marañon and Degamo during the One Negros Island Region Consultative Meeting held at the Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City Tuesday.
He assured the officials of both provinces that once all the data and justifications needed for the proposal are complete, he will immediately submit these to President Benigno S. Aquino III and then make a recommendation.
"There's no reason for it (one-island region) not to work," Roxas said.
He added that the meeting is a big step towards the realization of the proposal.
"This is what the President asked for, that we should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the creation of one region for Negros Island," Roxas said.
Roxas revealed that two months ago, he has already asked the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) to conduct an Economic Impact Study of the proposal that would include how it would improve the living conditions of the people of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.
He said the Neda will also collect records of Regional Development Councils related to the claims that the two provinces are getting a small slice of the budget from the regional offices.
Roxas added that he is also asking the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to submit the budgetary requirement for the creation of a new region that would also entail the creation of new regional offices.
Each Department of Interior and Local Government regional operations has an annual budget of P45 million which does not yet include the operational expenses of the provincial DILG offices, he noted.
Meanwhile, Marañon said he is very positive of Roxas’s endorsement of the one-island region proposal.
"I think we have convinced him with that attendance which was almost a hundred percent. We hope it would fast track the realization of the one-island region," the Occidental governor said.
Marañon added that he believes Roxas’s presence in Tuesday’s meeting has the blessings of the President after he asked Roxas to attend to the matter and make a recommendation to him during his visit to the province last month.
For his part, Degamo asked his fellow officials not to railroad the process.
"I am not against the move for the creation of a one-island region. We need a feasibility study on how this would improve the lives of my constituents in Negros Oriental," he said.
Degamo added: “If there is a study and data which are also required for submission to the President then we will go for it.”
Macias assured the Negros officials that the process is not being railroaded.
"We are ahead of what was started 20 years ago. We're going to process this and I'm happy that we are moving on," he said.
Macias said in his closing remarks that the fastest way to create the Negros Island Region is through an executive order signed by the President.
"We have barely two years to work on this. We won’t know if the next President will be sympathetic to this cause. But if the next President is sitting in this room, then we know that he heard our voice,” Macias said, referring to Roxas.
Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella said the Negros Occidental governor inspires everybody on the move to create a one-island region, but he acknowledged that it would take a long process for the proposal to be realized.
"We have to work on Governor Degamo to be more cooperative. We have to convince him that this is going to benefit more the people of Dumaguete than the people of Bacolod,” the mayor said.