9 Negros reps file bill for creation of NIR

Nine Negros Island representatives filed House Bill No. 10534 on Tuesday, November 23, that seeks to create the Negros Island Region for greater economic coordination and more efficient delivery of public services in Negros Occidental and Oriental, Rep. Francisco “Kiko” Benitez (Negros Occidental, 3rd District) said.

Consolidating the two Negros provinces in one administrative region through the “Negros Island Region Act” will promote sustainable and inclusive economic development, he said.

The signatories of the bill introduced by Benitez, are Negros Occidental representatives Gerardo Valmayor (1st District), Leo Rafael Cueva (2nd District), Juliet Marie Ferrer (4th District), Ma. Lourdes Arroyo (5th District), Rep. Greg Gasataya (Bacolod) and Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod).

Negros Oriental representatives who signed the bill are Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong (1st District) and Arnolfo Teves Jr. (3rd District).

Benitez said they were not able to reach Rep. Genaro Alvarez (Neg. Occ., 6th District) and Rep. Manuel Sagarbarria (Neg Or., 2nd District) before the filing of the bill. They can still sign as co-authors although time is running short for new bills in the 18th Congress, he said.

In May 2015, former President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order 183, creating the Negros Island Region, but in August 2017 President Rodrigo Duterte abolished it.

Benitez, in his explanatory note, said the dream of consolidating the two provinces into one administrative region continues to live on – “an inspiration that is deeply grounded in their histories”.

For 300 years under the Spanish colonial government Negros Occidental ad Oriental had been governed as one province, and were only divided into two in 1890, he said

The two Negros provinces united once again in establishing the cantonal government of Negros in 1898 after the surrender of Spanish colonial authorities in Negros Island, he added.

However, the autonomy of the Negros Canton had been short-lived – undermined first by the establishment of a unitary government under the Malolos Constitution and then by the American occupation, he said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri on November 19 also filed Senate Bill No. 2453 that seeks to establish the Negros Island Administrative Region to be known as Region XVIII.*

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