Senate finally tackles Negros Island Region bill 

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The Senate has started to tackle its version of the bill geared at reviving the Negros Island Region (NIR) after it initially got stuck in the committee on Local Government.

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri said he has co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 2507 or the Negros Island Region Act on Wednesday, December 6, 2023.

Zubiri said reestablishing the Negros Island Region (NIR) would bring the government closer to residents.

He said the current administrative set-up of Negros island is complicated.

Residents of Negros Occidental have to travel to Iloilo to apply for their identification cards, certificates or permits while those from Negros Oriental have to go to Cebu for the same purpose.

Under the bill, NIR shall be composed of the provinces, including the cities, municipalities and barangays of 1) Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City; 2) Negros Oriental and 3) Siquijor.

The measure was authored by Zubiri and co-authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and Senators Win Gatchalian, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. and Manuel “Lito” Lapid.

Earlier, Negros Occidental governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said that  “if the NIR revival goes beyond this administration, it may not happen at all.”

The House unanimously approved the bill in March this year with 290 votes, but it lingered in the Senate Committee on Local Government chaired by Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito.

Ejercito though refuted insinuations that the proposed NIR bill got stuck in his committee.

Ejercito pointed out that “there were unforeseen circumstances like the death of the late Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and his successor that delayed the process.”