Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri yesterday said he has written to President Rodrigo Duterte, and filed a resolution in the Senate calling for the continued recognition of the Negros Island Region, amid statements from the executive branch of plans to abolish the NIR.
The League of Vice Governors of the Philippines in a meeting in Davao City Wednesday night also passed a resolution appealing to the president not to rescind the resolution creating the NIR.
Negros Oriental Vice Governor Mark Macias said he and Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson authored the resolution.
“I am one with the leaders of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental in expressing their full support for the creation of the Negros Island Region and in its full implementation,” Zubiri said in his letter to the president dated October 17.
“The lopsided development of various areas in the island, the wide gap in poverty, and the tenuous peace and order situation with marked militarization in some areas can only be addressed when the NIR is fully operational,” Zubiri, whose father is from Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental, said.
Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. has pointed out that the NIR is fully operational with national government agencies having already set up their regional offices in Bacolod City and Dumaguete City.
The Negros Island Region was created by virtue of Executive Order 183 issued on May 29 last year by former President Aquino. It carved out Negros Occidental from Region VI (Western Visayas) and Negros Oriental from Region VII (Central Visayas), to form the NIR to accelerate social and economic development and improve the delivery of public services, Zubiri said.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said, “The EO on the NIR is not in the budget anymore. It will be repealed”, the senator noted.
This prompted him to file Senate Resolution No. 203 on October 17, calling for the retention of the NIR, because it promotes efficiency in the region, enhances decentralization from the national government, and bolsters economic development for local residents.
Zubiri pointed out that the island had been “the center of insurgency in the 1970s and we don't want a repeat of that. Remember the CHICKS area? It was one of the poorest areas in the island. It was also the site of the US-led and directed Operation Thunderbolt which, instead of installing peace, was responsible for heightening the conflict.”
The CHICKS area consist Candoni, Hino-baan, Ilog, Cauayan, Kabankalan, and Sipalay in the sixth district of Negros Occidental.
“Twenty-three years ago, several towns in the Negros provinces were declared as Zones of Peace and Special Development Areas, The military and rebels worked towards brokering peace. We want to preserve and enhance the progress we have achieved. That is where the NIR is very relevant,” he said.
“My father, Governor Jose Ma. Zubiri, is a native of Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, making us true-blooded Negrense. I support the continued existence of the NIR because I believe it is for the benefit of my kababayans ,” he added.
The Negros Occidental and Bacolod City Sanggunians, the Regional Peace and Order Council, Negros Occidental Provincial Development Council, Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Kabankalan Chamber of Commerce and Industry have also filed resolutions calling for the retention of the NIR.
Vice Governor Macias said he and other Negros Oriental officials are joining a forum on the NIR at the Capitol in Bacolod City on Monday.*CPG
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