THE Senate hearing on the proposed creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR) is expected to continue when the session resumes after the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on July 24.
Negros Occidental (3rd District) Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, one of the authors of the House bill, said the committee on local government led by Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito has already held two hearings.
“We are just waiting for the Senate hearing. I have talked to Senator Ejercito and he said once the Senate opens after the SONA, it’s already in the agenda. He just did not say when,” Benitez told reporters during an interview in Victorias City Monday afternoon.
“Since they have conducted two hearings, probably they want to finish it. The filing (of the bill) in the Senate is simpler that filing in the lower House. They will decide which version and how to push it forward,” he added.
In the Senate, the committee on local government approved Senate Bill 1236, authored by Ejercito, seeking to create the NIR to boost the efficiency of the delivery of government services and provide convenience for the region’s residents in line with the administration’s goal of rightsizing.
House Bill 7355, creating the NIR, was passed on the third and final reading in the House of Representatives in March this year.
Titled "An Act Establishing the NIR, and Appropriating Funds Therefor," HB 7355 provides that the NIR shall be composed of the cities, municipalities and barangays in Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and the island province of Siquijor.
It was introduced by all the legislators from Negros Occidental, including Rep. Benitez, Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer (4th District), Greg Gasataya of the Lone District of Bacolod, Gerardo Valmayor Jr. (1st District), Alfredo Marañon III (2nd District), Emilio Bernardino Yulo (5th District), Mercedes Alvarez (6th District) and Joseph Stephen Paduano of the Abang Lingkod party-list.
HB 7355 is a consolidation of the three bills filed separately by Benitez, Ferrer and Marañon on the creation of the NIR. (PNA)