NegOcc guv: It’s now or never for NIR

Negros Occidental governor Eugenio Jose Lacson

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said that it is now or never for the revival of the Negros Island Region (NIR).

The governor talked with reporters on Wednesday after its approval by the House of Representatives and declaration of support by many senators.

“If it goes beyond this administration, it may not happen at all,” Lacson told reporters when asked for his reaction.

The House has approved the bill but it remains stuck in the Senate.

Earlier, Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, chairperson of the Senate committee on Local Government, refuted insinuations that the proposed NIR bill got stuck in his committee.

Ejercito pointed out that “there were unforeseen circumstances like the death of the late Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and his successor that delayed the process.”

He added that “we just need to convince the President (Ferdinand Marcos Jr) of the viability of putting up the NIR as he is apprehensive because of the cost it entails.”

Lacson lamented that ever since the NIR revival was conceptualized, the issue being raised against it was “funding.”

But Lacson said that he still remains optimistic that NIR will be realized.

The governor also said that he prefers a short delay in the passage so that the Local Government committee will have time to come up with a strong case for NIR.

He stressed further that “it is better to study it well so that they could convince the President, rather than speed it up.”

As to the issue on the NIR budget, Lacson recalled that there was no budget issue on the setting up of the previous NIR.

“If it worked out before, I don’t see any reason it will not work out,” the governor said.

He added that they are not expecting offices to be put up immediately.

Lacson also said that “what is important is to have a new and functional region”.

He further said that he is offering spaces for the regional offices in the 25-hectare lot owned by the provincial government in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.

It could be also in Kabankalan City, he added.

Lacson added that “we will follow the model of South Cotabato where the regional offices of the region are in one area.”

Both Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental have also agreed to divide regional offices, the governor pointed out.