Governors Alfredo Marañon Jr. of Negros Occidental and Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental yesterday pledged their support for the creation of a “Negros Island Federal State”, or to, at least, keep the two provinces together under one larger state.
The two governors met at the Negros Oriental Provincial Capitol in Dumaguete City on the request of Arthur Aguilar, the lone-Negrense member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to review the 1987 Philippine Constitution in line with the push for a shift to a federal form of government.
Aguilar, chairman of the ConCom’s Economic Sector, told the DAILY STAR that the current proposal is for all 17 existing regions of the country to be converted into 17 federal states.
If the two Negros provinces are reunited they could form the 18th federal state, which he will push for inclusion in the ConCom’s proposal to the President, Aguilar said.
“I will certainly fight for it, the committee might want to start with a template of 17 (states), I keep on arguing it should be 18. I am only one voice there, but I will try my best,” he said.
He will strongly push for a Negros Island federal state because even the Asian Development Bank and World Bank find it practical, given that the two provinces share one ecosystem, and ensuring peace and order is better under one command, Aguilar said.
But he stressed that he will need the full support of the two governors and the people of both provinces.
Aguilar also asked the two governors if they are amenable to name it the “Negrosanon State” to avoid negative connotation of the word “Negros” in other parts of the world, and for the people of the island to also be known as Negrosanons.
The proposed name could be posted on social media to see what the reaction of the publics is to it, he said.
A Negros Island federal state is very viable and advantageous to the two provinces, Marañon said, pointing out that, based on the Commission on Audit’s Financial Report in 2015, both Negros provinces were listed as among the richest in the country.
A Negros federal state can stand on its own because the island is also the center of renewable energy and in five years time, it can provide power to the whole Visayas, he added.
The creation of the Negros Island Region, although short-lived, had proved that the joint efforts of the two provinces for the protection of its ecosystem and the maintenance of peace and order were very effective, Marañon said.
“Both provinces had done so much in just so little time,” he said.
They are hoping for a Negros Island federal state but their fall back position if that is not possible, is to push for the two provinces to, at least, be kept together under the Western or Central Visayas states, Marañon also said.
Degamo told the DAILY STAR the creation of a Negros Island federal state would be very good, and he is for it, but a thorough study should be conducted to back its viability.
“The Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports the proposed Negros Island federal state given our proven track record as an island region in 2015-2017,” Edward Du, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Regional Governor for Central Visayas and former NOCCI head, said.
Negros Island is also blessed with natural resources, which include abundant water and renewable energy, and a talented and skilled human resource, he added.
Aguilar said that the ConCom chaired by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno is tasked to study, conduct consultations, and review the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, including the structure and powers of the government, economic policies and local governance.
By June 2018 the CoCom will present its recommendations and proposals to President Duterte, who will then submit a report to Congress, he said.*CPG
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