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HOUSE FORMS TWG FOR NEGROS ISLAND REGION BILLS

The House committee on local government has formed a technical working group (TWG) that will consolidate the bills seeking the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR).

The development came after the body conducted initial deliberations on the three proposed legislations.

“The TWG was created to consolidate similar bills and address questions.”

“The TWG was created to consolidate similar bills and address questions,” said Negros Occidental Third District Representative Jose Franciso Benitez, who mainly authored House Bill (HB) 1446.

Negros Occidental Sixth District Representative Mercedes Alvarez and Cebu City South District Representative Eduardo Rama Jr. have been tasked to head the TWG that will tackle issues on the inclusion of Siquijor, which is included in HB 1446 only, and the mode of determining the location of the regional offices.

Aside from Benitez, whose bill is titled “An Act Creating Region 6-B and For Other Purposes”, two other lawmakers from Negros Occidental, Second District Representative Alfredo Marañon III, and Fourth District Representative Juliet Marie Ferrer, have also filed bills for the creation of the NIR.

Marañon authored HB 330 or “An Act Establishing the Negros Island Region” while Ferrer proposed HB 119 or “An Act Establishing the Negros Island Region and For Other Purposes”.

The two Negros provinces and Bacolod City will be asked to submit their position papers, Ferrer said.

At present, Negros Occidental and Bacolod City are under Western Visayas or Region 6 while Negros Oriental and Siquijor are part of Central Visayas or Region 7.

On May 29, 2015, the NIR was first created through Executive Order 183 signed by then-president Benigno Aquino III, separating Negros Occidental from Western Visayas and Negros Oriental from Central Visayas.

However, on Aug. 7, 2017, former president Rodrigo Duterte issued EO 38 abolishing the NIR, stressing the need to ensure that priority government programs and projects are sufficiently funded.

“The close economic coordination of the two Negros provinces is most crucial. Re-unifying the two Negros provinces under one administrative region therefore becomes necessary.”

“The challenge is to transform the economy of Negros Island to ensure that economic growth redounds to the benefit of the people. Here, the close economic coordination of the two Negros provinces is most crucial. Re-unifying the two Negros provinces under one administrative region therefore becomes necessary,” Benitez said in his bill’s explanatory note.

The legislator added that “in view of its proximity and cultural similarities, the inclusion of Siquijor Province to the proposed Region 6-B is logical and practical”. 

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