Presidents Marcos signs Negros Island Region Law

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD CITY—Negros Occidental officials are jubilant over the signing of the Negros Island Region (NIR) bill into law today, June 13, 2024, in Malacañang.

Bacolod Representative Greg Gasataya, who confirmed the ceremonial signing of the NIR law to Daily Guardian on Wednesday, said, “It is a huge victory for the region as this means that government services will finally be brought closer to Negrosanons, Siquijodnon, and Bacolodnons.”

Gasataya emphasized that the unity shown by Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Siquijor underscores their commitment to quality and accessible public services.

“This pivotal policy will help steer our attention and efforts on planning and consolidated efforts to spur growth and development in the region and improve the quality of life within our jurisdiction.”

“I thank my colleagues in the House of Representatives, Speaker Martin Romualdez, Former Senate President Migz Zubiri, Senator JV Ejercito, and President Bongbong Marcos for their support in this historic measure since day one,” Gasataya added.

He pointed out that with the NIR, “no longer will our people have to cross mountains or seas just to avail of the services they deserve.”

“There is no better way to welcome our 126th Independence Day than institutionalizing our cohesion as one region for the sake of better service for our people,” Gasataya said.

Rep. Francisco “Kiko” Benitez (3rd district, Negros Occidental) said it is history unfolding for the people of Negros.

“We thank President Marcos Jr. for his support of our dream of a separate administrative region for Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.”

He also acknowledged the support of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, former Senate President Migz Zubiri, and the dedication of all Negros and Siquijor congressmen, as well as their champions in the Senate, especially Senator JV Ejercito.

“We are indebted to their efforts in shepherding the NIR bill.”

The establishment of the NIR will bring government services closer to the people of Negros Island and Siquijor and facilitate integrated development planning towards inclusive, resilient, and sustainable development in the region, Benitez said.

“We hope that DILG will immediately convene the Technical Working Group that will iron out the institutional arrangements for the transition,” he added.

Bacolod City Mayor Albee Benitez will attend the ceremonial signing of the NIR Bill in Malacañang Palace, said his spokesman, Atty. Caesar Distrito.

Mayor Benitez was invited to the signing by the President through Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer Sec. Mark Leandro Mendoza.

Distrito said Mayor Benitez is thankful for the long-awaited creation of the Negros Island Region, composed of Occidental and Oriental Negros, along with the province of Siquijor. He is also grateful to all the congressmen and senators who supported the creation of the NIR bill.

“Mayor Albee is excited that NIR, being a separate region, will soon bring many benefits to the people of this three-province region. More infrastructure and development projects, the creation of more growth areas, opening of more government positions, and reducing bureaucratic processes as we will have our own regional offices here in Negros, are just some of the benefits that the NIR will bring,” Distrito said.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said he is also attending the ceremony.

NIR was first formed on May 29, 2015 via Executive Order No. 183 issued by the late President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

The EO joined the twin Negros provinces into one region — the Negros Island Region after separating Negros Occidental and its capital Bacolod from Western Visayas (Region VI) and Negros Oriental from Central Visayas (Region VII).

On August 9, 2017, President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 38, finally revoking the Executive Order No. 183.

The official reason given by Secretary of Budget and Management Benjamín Diokno was the lack of funds needed to fully establish Negros as a functioning region.