‘NIR will have no chance after PBMM's term’

‘NIR will have no chance after PBMM's term’
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Negros Occidental  Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said that he believes that the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR) will have no more chance if it isn't be realized during the term of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

"If it does not materialize during the current administration, then it will not happen at all," Lacson said Wednesday, November 22.

Lacson made the statement after Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito denied insinuations that the NIR bill is stuck in his committee.

Ejercito, chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government,  explained that there were unforeseen circumstances, like the death of the late Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and the appointment of his successor, which delayed the process.

In fact, he said, he and Senate President Miguel Zubiri already met with Negros Occidental Governor  Eugenio Jose Lacson and Negros Oriental Governor Manuel Sagarbarria in Manila two months ago.

"We just need to convince the President of the viability as he is apprehensive because of the cost putting a new region will entail," Ejercito said.

"We don't want to pass the measure only to be vetoed. That is why we are making sure all bases are covered," he added.

Ejercito, meanwhile, said the Technical Working Group just concluded and that the committee report is being prepared.

Siquijor didn’t participate, but rather they sent a letter stating that they wanted to be part of NIR.

Also, the distribution of regional offices is still being finalized for acceptance by the provinces, Ejercito added.

"But the more important factor is that both provinces should agree. These are the reasons for the delay; it was not the committee’s fault. We will not delay because the NIR bill is authored by me and Senate President Migz Zubiri," Ejercito also emphasized.

Lacson, meanwhile, said that ever since the NIR was conceptualized, the issue raised against it was always funding.

However, the governor still expressed optimism that the NIR would eventually be realized.

"It's better to study well so that they could convince President Marcos rather than speed it up, and then some data may not be presented, which may not convince the president," Lacson pointed out.

He added that he prefers that there's "a slight delay; it will give time to the committee of Senator Ejercito to really come up with a strong case for NIR."

He believes in the statement of Ejercito that he should be really prepared to answer all the possible questions by the president to fully convince the president that its a good thing to create the NIR.

"I feel this is our last chance, with many senators pledging support for the creation of NIR. If it goes beyond this administration, it will not happen at all," Lacson said.

"If it worked before, I don't see any reason why it will not work out now. We are not expecting offices to be built immediately. We have to provide for the offices in the meantime. What is important is to have a new and functional region," he added.

He said that he is offering the 25-hectare land owned by the provincial government in Talisay City.

"We will follow the model of South Cotabato, where the regional offices of the region are in one area. The province will provide the land to build their original offices. If the provincial government can afford it, we can build buildings for them in the area," Lacson said.

Negros Occidental is under Region 6 (Western Visayas) while Negros Oriental and Siquijor are under Region 7 (Central Visayas), respectively.

House Bill 7355, creating the NIR, was passed by the House of Representatives in March this year.*

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