4 Visayas guvs back NIR budget

THE Regional Development Committee (RDCom)-Visayas welcomed the Negros Island Region (NIR) as its newest member, and passed several resolutions extending full support to the operation of the NIR by October.

The chairs of the Regional Development Councils (RDCs) led by Region 8’s Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla of Leyte, chairman of RDCom-Visayas, held their second meeting in Bacolod City Wednesday.

Also present were RDC-7 chair Gov. Edgar Chatto of Bohol, Gov. Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental, and host outgoing RDC-6 chair Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. Both Degamo and Marañon will soon be under the RDC-18 of the NIR.

The RDCom-Visayas approved resolutions asking the Office of the President to include NIR in the 2016 national budget and appoint a transition RDC chair for the newly-formed region.

The four governors also passed another resolution asking the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to hasten the processing of requirements needed for the inclusion of NIR in next year’s national budget.

The RDCs in the Visayas “are making sure that NIR will not be left out,” and “are keeping a close contact with the DBM, especially with Secretary Butch Abad to make sure that we meet the time frame for NIR’s budget,” Petilla said.

In the Memorandum Circular No. 81 issued by the Office of the President on Aug. 8, all government agency heads are directed to appoint interim regional directors for NIR not later than Oct. 1 and complete the measures in establishing interim regional offices by Jan. 1, 2016.

Despite the separation of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental from Western Visayas (Region 6) and Central Visayas (Region 7), respectively, Petilla said he believes the two Negros provinces will still get an “equitable share” from the national budget.

Moreover, the RDCom-Visayas also discussed the implementation of the Visayas Development Plan.

The existing plans for Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental will be pulled out from their former regions and will be put together for the NIR, Petilla said.

For his part, Chatto vowed that the Region 7 provinces of Bohol, Cebu, and Siquijor will extend support to NIR especially to Negros Oriental during the transition period.

u201cIt was really a mixed feelings to lose one member of our team,” he said. “But looking at the future direction of the whole Negros Island, we are sharing the vision that this is going to be a more progressive island.”

Chatto said he believes that anything good for the NIR is also good for Region 7.

‘No to permanent regional centers’

Meanwhile, Degamo said he is against the move to put the permanent regional offices of the NIR at the boundaries of Kabankalan City and Mabinay town.

He pushed that the interim regional offices in Dumaguete City and in Bacolod City will become permanent.

Degamo said the provincial offices of national government agencies in Dumaguete are now ready for the implementation of the NIR.

He added that there is a wide area at the Capitol site in Negros Oriental which he is eyeing to become the permanent location of the regional offices.

"That's very ideal for permanent regional offices. I am not amenable to Mabinay because it's two hours away from Dumaguete City and is also too far from Bacolod City,” Degamo said.

"What will you do in Mabinay after you transact business there? I am now happy with the present set-up," he said.

Under the transition period of the NIR, 14 regional offices will be located in Negros Occidental, and 16 others, in Negros Oriental.

Visayan bridges

In another development, Regional Director Ro-Ann Bacal of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda)-6 said there are plans to establish connectivity across the Visayas through bridges.

She said a study will be conducted to determine how many bridges will be constructed to connect the Visayas provinces.

"We have initially talked with Secretary Rogelio Singson of the Department Public Works and Highways to resurrect the studies of the bridges. There have been separate studies for the Panay-Negros, Guimaras-Negros bridges and also Bohol-Cebu,” Bacal said.

The Neda-6 official added: “I think there will be a comprehensive study to identify (the sites). There is a process with the Korean Exim Bank on how to conduct the study. It’s really up to them. They are going to allocate funds for the study. It’s a grant.”

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