By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Senator Imee Marcos clarified reports that she is not keen on the revival of Negros Island Region (NIR) saying that Negros has a special place in her heart.
While she appeared lukewarm to the NIR when she was here last week, Marcos vowed to work on “what is good for Negros.”
The senator, who is also a sister of President Ferdinand Marcos, made the declaration to clarify news reports that she is “not keen” on the move to revive the Negros Island Region proposal.
“I never said I was not keen on NIR. Rather, I said it requires further updated study because no new data has been presented to the Senate yet, despite moves to revive interest in the creation of the NIR,” Marcos said in a press statement.
Marcos further said that she is very much aware of the issues confronting the NIR passage before, citing that both Negros province governors – the late Alfredo Marañon and Roel Degamo – had presented the matter to her when they were together in the League of Governors then.
She pointed out, though, that Degamo raised the issue of economics because Negros Occidental was less reliant on the region they belong to compared to Negros Oriental, which had to rely much on Cebu to spur the local economy.
Marcos said that the reason why she is asking for updated data on such concerns is because “we need to convince the economic managers that putting NIR back on the map is actually viable considering the circumstances at the moment.”
“I understand though that both leaders of the two Negros provinces are now agreeable to pursue NIR and have come to terms on how to go about this, then whatever is the will of the people of Negros Island, I will personally support,” Marcos said.
She further said, “At the end of the day, we are servants of the people and we will work on what the people want and what works for them best.”
Marcos who was here last week for the Teachers’ Day celebration had said that while she does not have a position yet on the NIR proposal, she stressed that its creation should be “economically viable.”
On his part, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson insisted that the creation of NIR “should not be based on its cost.”
“If that is the basis then talagang we will never have a chance,” Lacson said.
Lacson pointed out that the national government also created the BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao).
“That’s a lot of money also. So I am hoping na with the help of those who committed to help especially sa mga senators na we will finally see the light of having the NIR,” he added.
The proposed reestablishment of NIR includes the island province of Siquijor.
The Senate Committee on Local Government chaired by Senator Juan Victor Ejercito is currently deliberating the proposal after it was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives.
“I am hoping that with the help of those who committed to help, especially with the senators, we finally see the light of having NIR. And I thank Senator Imee for her clarification,” Lacson said.
The governor also said that he is optimistic that the creation of a new region in the Visayas will push through during the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.