‘Negros Island Region will be a bulwark of growth’

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD CITY—President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed the Negros Island Region (NIR) Act into law on Thursday, establishing a new administrative region aimed at unifying Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor to drive growth and development.

President Marcos, during the signing ceremony at Malacañang’s Ceremonial Hall, emphasized that the NIR Act will not only unify the provinces but also enhance the delivery of essential services and reduce bureaucratic red tape.

“This union, which is long overdue, makes very practical sense, especially in the Negros Island where people are located on one island but governed under separate administrative regions. For decades, Negrenses experienced the rigors of sea travel, unnecessary expenses, and bureaucratic red tape to access government services,” he said.

The President highlighted the economic disparity between the provinces despite their shared resources and industries such as sugar, tourism, and renewable energy.

He expressed optimism that the NIR would foster greater economic growth and improve service delivery in the region.

“Thanks to the work of our legislators, the new Negros Island Region will be a bulwark of greater growth and a conduit for more effective and efficient delivery of essential services,” Marcos added.

Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry officer Frank Carbon echoed the President’s sentiments, noting that integrating Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor would attract more developmental investments.

“More investments will create more and better-paying jobs, helping to eradicate poverty and insurgency. Integrating the 5 million population of the three provinces through improved land transport and telecommunications will boost the region’s spending power,” Carbon said.

He emphasized the need to improve the supply and affordability of power and water for agriculture, households, and industry.

Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, a key proponent of the NIR Act, celebrated the law’s passage as a significant milestone.

“The NIR has long been a dream of mine and my fellow Negrenses. We have long wanted our own region, with our own government offices readily accessible to our people,” said Zubiri, whose paternal family hails from Kabankalan, Negros Occidental.

Zubiri authored and co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 2507, the Senate’s version of the NIR Act.

Before the NIR Act, Negros Occidental was part of Region VI, while Negros Oriental and Siquijor were under Region VII. This setup required residents to travel to Iloilo and Cebu to access regional government services.

“With the NIR, we will be able to bring the government closer to our people and attract more investors, improving our ease of doing business,” Zubiri said.

He thanked President Marcos, Senator JV Ejercito, and other officials for their efforts in passing the law.

The new administrative region is expected to accelerate social and economic development in the Visayas, providing strategic convergence of resources, investments, and economic planning.

“In unity, there is always strength, and that is what we are building,” Marcos said.

He pledged the national government’s assistance to ensure the region’s swift development and integration.