Negros island guvs meeting on NIR rebirth in the works

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and Governor Roel Degamo 

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Governors Eugenio Jose Lacson of Negros Occidental and Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental are set to meet soon to discuss the rebirth of the Negros Island Region (NIR) this time with the inclusion of Siquijor province.

Lacson said he already instructed Provincial Administrator Atty. Rayfrando Diaz to coordinate with the Provincial Information Office of Negros Oriental.

Lacson supports NIR recreation, while Degamo has expressed his opposition to its rebirth.

Degamo earlier claimed that NIR is not “developmentally beneficial” to Negros Oriental, stressing that his province is enjoying a stable economy under Region 7.

He also pointed out that NIR will cost the national government P35 billion for infrastructure and staffing.

Lacson said Degamo is willing to sit down with him to discuss the NIR recreation.

The NIR was first established through an executive order issued by the late President Benigno Aquino III in 2015. Degamo was supportive of the move then.

But the new region was dissolved in 2017 by Aquino’s successor, former President Rodrigo Duterte.

All Negros Island lawmakers co-authored a bill creating NIR, which is also supported by five senators, including Senate president Juan Miguel Zubiri, as well as by Siquijor Rep. Zaldy Villa and Gov. Jake Vincent Villa.

On his part, Negros Occidental Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer theorized that the opposition of Gov. Degamo to NIR may have something to do with local politics.

His political rival, Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnie Teves, is a co-author of the NIR bill.

The brother of Teves, Henry Teves, stepped down as Negros Oriental governor after his proclamation was annulled by the Commission on Elections, several months after the May 2022 elections.

On her part, Rep. Mercedez Alvarez-Lansang said Congress will approve the rebirth of NIR which she said may be accomplished before this year ends.