‘Economic viability should not be basis for NIR revival’

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said economic viability should not be the basis for the revival of the Negros Island Region (NIR).

Lacson was reacting to the statement of Senator Imee Marcos that reviving NIR is not viable economically.

“Ang akon lng ya, I wish nga indi himuon basis ang cost to create the NIR region,” Lacson told reporters in a press briefing at his office.

He added, “If that is the basis then talagang we will never have a chance.”

Lacson pointed out that the national government also created the BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) adding “That’s a lot of money also.”

“So I am hoping na with the help of those who committed to help especially sa mga senators na we will finally see the light of having the NIR,” Lacson said.

Marcos, who was here Friday last week for the World Teachers’ Day celebration, said that the pros and cons of the proposed revival of the Negros Island Region must be presented first, particularly its economic practicality.

“It should be viable economically,” she added.

The presidential sister in a press conference on Friday said she had heard all sides of the issue.

“I heard the argument long ago of the late Negros Occidental governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., who was very much for it. Then I also heard the late Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo who convinced everyone that they rely too much on Cebu and couldn’t be cut off from them.”

She added that “lately I’ve heard a revival of some sort again, also talks of the bridge, yun lang I don’t know, I don’t know what are the arguments this time and what are the present financial arguments.”

Marcos pointed out that the creation of government units always ends up as an economic effort.

“If you set up a new area it should be viable economically, dapat sulit. Kasi mag lalagay ka ng mga bagong opisina, mahal yan eh, maglalagay ng bagong opisina at lahat ng national government agencies nandyan, dapat sulit, there are arguments that it is not viable economically.”

The proposed new NIR includes Negros Occidental, which belongs to Western Visayas, and Negros Oriental and Siquijor which are under Central Visayas.

The House bill on the recreation of the NIR, which was passed unanimously in the Lower House, was co-authored by all Negros Island solons including that of Siquijor and Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Joseph Paduano.

Both governors Eugenio Jose Lacson of Negros Occidental and Manuel Sagarbarria of Negros Oriental have expressed support for the revival of NIR.