Mayor Benitez hopes for smooth NIR enactment

(Glazyl Y. Masculino)

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD CITY – Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez expressed his hopes for a smooth enactment of the Negros Island Region (NIR).

On Monday, Benitez, who chairs the Western Visayas Regional Development Council, led a consultative gathering with lawmakers, mayors from Negros Occidental, and regional directors to discuss the reestablishment of the NIR.

“This is really just a consultative gathering between our congressmen, mayors, regional directors, of course, in anticipation of the enactment of the NIR,” Benitez told reporters.

He added, “We are now moving in terms of trying to find all the concerns and issues on how to implement the new region.”

Benitez noted that some departments reported being understaffed.

“One of our priorities is to secure additional budgets for those departments. It’s good that we heard all the concerns of the stakeholders for this new region, so we will know the issues and resolve them before its actual implementation,” the mayor emphasized.

The Senate-approved NIR bill was sent to Malacañang on May 13, 2024. The President has 30 days to sign it or allow it to lapse into law.

Benitez mentioned plans for another consultative session with the mayors, congressmen, and regional directors in Negros Oriental and Siquijor to gather their proposals on staffing and other concerns.

“We will also get their sentiments regarding the new region,” he added.

Sixth District Rep. Mercedes Alvarez Lansang suggested utilizing the offices used during the initial establishment of the NIR in 2018, under former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who issued an executive order for its creation.

Benitez stated that the major challenge was getting the bill approved in both houses of Congress. “Since we have gone beyond its passage, we are hoping for smooth sailing moving forward,” he said.

“We are making all these preparations just to ensure that there are no major issues or stumbling blocks,” he added.

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