Negros solon optimistic on NIR passage next year

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental 5th district Rep. Emilio “Dino” Yulo III on Sunday said he is optimistic about the passage of the proposed Negros Island Region (NIR) in the House of Representatives next year.

“There is no problem with the House of Representatives, as the Senate is also supportive of the new region creation,” according to Yulo, who also co-authored the NIR bill that includes Siquijor.

Yulo also noted that the creation of NIR was also a political campaign promise of some elected senators and congressmen.

Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo earlier expressed his opposition to NIR creation, citing “cultural and language differences”.

However, the three Negros Oriental solons, including Reps. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong (1st District), Manuel Sagarbarria (2nd District), and Arnulfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. (3rd District) are supporting the NIR creation that includes Siquijor.

“We should not consider it as an opposition, as of this time. He might want to be clarified to what he had stated in the media, on the pros and cons. It’s time for us, the proponents, to reach out to Degamo, to address his concerns,” Yulo said.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson earlier bared his plans to reach out to Degamo in Dumaguete City to discuss the proposed NIR creation, which he will schedule “after the holidays.”

The planned visit will be part of his efforts “to reach out to Degamo,” Lacson said.

He pointed out that 80 percent of the mayors in the two provinces of Negros “are supportive of the NIR’s re-establishment.

All the 10 Negros Island solons, including Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Joseph Paduano, have co-authored NIR bills, which are now being consolidated by the Technical Working Group of the House Committee on Local Government for a substitution bill, before presenting it to the plenary.

As to the proposals of creating sub-regions as recommended by the National Economic Development Authority and the Department of Budget and Management, Yulo asked “what is the difference of having sub-regions? Why don’t you go to the one created by law, in order to have permanency? Otherwise, we rebirth to the same arrangement before, which was the issuance of an EO (executive order).”

“If they want to do it now (for the establishment of regional offices), so much the better. But it will not stop Congress from going on of the passage of NIR,” he added.

Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez also sent a letter to the House committee on Local Government, endorsing the NIR creation.

After the TWG creates the NIR substitution bill, following the consolidation of all bills filed by Negros solons, Yulo said it will be presented to the plenary for discussion, approval for 2nd and 3rd reading, and to the bicameral committee, for consolidation with the Senate bills.

The NIR was established in 2015 through an Executive Order issued by then-President Benigno Aquino III.

However, it was dissolved two years later by his successor, former President Rodrigo Duterte through another EO, citing the high costs of maintaining the region.