If the President will reconsider his decision to shelve the Negros Island Region (NIR) this will help reduce the problem or burden of the national government, Manuelito Luna, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) commissioner, said during a media briefing yesterday in Bacolod City.
Luna, who was in Bacolod for the Balangayan 2019: Constitutional Reform Provincial Roadshow, said he is in favor of giving the NIR a chance.
President Rodrigo Duterte had dissolved the NIR created by the previous administration, citing lack of funds.
Luna told the mayors and other local officials yesterday during a dialog, why not give it a chance?
He said there are two kinds of autonomous regions in the country. One is the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARM) and the other is the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
Luna said the BARM operates like a semi-federal state. They hope it will survive because this will serve as a template for their shift later on to a federal form of government if the people want it.Thisis not their decision, but this will be the decision of everybody who will vote during a plebiscite once there is already a proposal.
The NIR may be considered because of the uniqueness of the two Negros provinces, he said.
He was the lawyer before of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo so he knows the culture of the Negrenses, he said.
If the President will reconsider his decision to shelve the NIR, after constitutional and legal interventions, why not give it a try, he added.
Luna said this will help reduce the problem of the national governmentas it will only focus on Bicol, Metro Manila, and other places like Cebu and other federated states. The problem will be reduced because the Negrenses want to contribute through being autonomous.
This has to be discussed properly because this should be done through a formal petition or manifesto signed by the governors, congressmen and mayors of the two Negrosprovinces and sent to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, or to the Federalism Institute, so this will be included in the agenda and discussed thoroughly, he said.
Perhaps Congress will be copy-furnished so this could be formalized and discussed, Luna said. Everything starts with a good idea and who knows this will be a good template so, even as they pray for BARM’s success, this idea would be considered and the President is a very reasonable person. Who knows, maybe this time he will have a new perspective, he said.
Reymark Radjuli, DILG supervising project officer for operations, said that if this will be considered by the Inter-Agency Task Force, the NIR will become one of the federated regions of the country.
Radjuli said that one of the constitutional amendments they are pushing is the conversion of Regional Development Council, which is just a recommendatory body, into the Regional Development Authority. They want to equip the RDA with powers for it to perform and supervise delegation of projects within the region. This is one step towards federalism.
Meanwhile, Luna said there is no hidden agenda inthe shift to federalism.
“I know the President is sincere in the shift to another good system of government for everybody to propel us to the path of development and progress,” he added.*
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