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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, July 29, 2016
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Duterte, 2 governors
meet on NIR budget

President anticipating shift to federal states
BY CARLA GOMEZ

President Rodrigo Duterte prefers to continue to source the 2017 budget for the regional offices of the Negros Island Region from Regions 6 and 7,  with the eventual creation of federal states.

This was disclosed yesterday by Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, who, along with Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., met with the president in Malacañang Wednesday night.

Degamo said he joined Marañon in the meeting to listen and support him.

It appears that the NIR will stay as is while deliberations are under way on a possible shift towards federalism, where in federal states would be created, that would replace regional groupings, Degamo said.

Negros Occidental used to be part of Western Visayas (Region 6) and Negros Oriental of Central Visayas (Region 7), until President Benigno Aquino issued Executive Order No. 183 on May 29, 2015, putting them together under the NIR.

The regional offices in the NIR for 2016 have been operating on budgets taken from Regions 6 and 7, but it was expected that in 2017, the NIR would get its own direct share of the national budget.

The Negros Occidental Sangguniang Panlalawigan Wednesday passed a resolution asking the president to include the 2017 proposed budget for the NIR in the national executive budget to be submitted to Congress for approval.

The resolution was passed on information that the Department of Budget and Management did not include the NIR budget in the proposed 2017 national budget.

Marañon, when asked for his comment, said “I am, for the moment, holding off my comment on that issue. Let us wait
for the official communication or notice from the Executive Branch”

The governor pointed out that the move to unify the two Negros provinces, came after more than two decades since the campaign was started by his predecessors, in keeping with the spirit of giving LGUs more autonomy as championed by then Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. when he authored the Local Government Code.

The LGUs should have more participation in charting their future because they are in the best position to address peculiarities in their respective territories, he said.

“If we apply the same under the present context, the unification of the two Negros provinces is also in keeping with the President's preference for a shift to the federal form of government. With the NIR or Region 18 already operational, we already have one foot in into the preferred system that the President is espousing,” Marañon said.

On the budget requirements to run the NIR, the governor said “We were able to manage its operations with minimum allocation as the provincial governments of Negros Occidental and Oriental are, on their own volition, sharing the cost. We can manage to run the NIR affairs still with minimal allotment.”

He said what is important is that the two provinces have seen that under NIR things work better, more effectively and efficiently in addressing common concerns such as crime prevention, insurgency, tourism promotion, environment protection.

This is because both provinces have common protected areas, disaster risk reduction management, agriculture sector development particularly on food security and organic agriculture advocacy, among others, the governor said.

Negros Occidental and Oriental share common protected areas, he pointed out, citing Tanon Strait, Visayan Sea, Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park and the Ilog-Hilabangan River, he added.

The governor said he is banking on the statement of the President shortly after his election that he will be in support of the NIR if that's what majority of Negrenses want.

The move to establish the NIR (Region 18) was apolitical, it was an effort to ensure a more vibrant economy, peaceful island, better coordinated development for the future generations of Negrenses, Marañon stressed.

Yves Akol, PDP Laban Negros secretary general, said Marañon and Degamo had a cordial and friendly talk with President Duterte, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Executive Secretary Christopher “Bong” Go in the kitchen of Malacañang Wednesday night.*CPG

 

 

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