Alvarez says NIR may begin operations before end of 2024

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signing the NIR law on Thursday.*PCO photo

The Negros Island Region will hopefully begin operations before the end of the year, Rep. Mercedes Alvarez (Neg. Occ., 6th District) said on Friday, June 14.

Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said he estimates that the new region could begin operations in 90 days.

“We’re hoping the new region will be operational before the end of year, but it won’t be full blown, there will be temporary offices initially,” she said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Republic Act 12000, the law creating the NIR, composed of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor, on Thursday, June 13.

Marcos pledged the national government’s assistance “so that we can bring this new region up to speed as quickly as possible”.

The NIR law will take effect 15 days after completion of its publication either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation, Alvarez said.

After that a technical working group composed of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Budget and Management and representatives from the three provinces and legislative districts will be convened to come up with a road map for the new region, she said.

The DILG is expected to draft the Internal Rules and Regulations (IRR) within 60 days, Alvarez said.

Alvarez said she will lobby for satellite regional offices in areas where they are most needed.

“There will be birthing pains and challenges up ahead. The real work will begin as soon as the law is in effect”, she said.

“The best-case scenario actually is it would become fully functional in 2025, especially now that the national government is preparing the General Appropriations Act. We’re hoping the budget for the NIR will be included,” Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said in a radio interview.

Lacson said it is important that the Regional Development Council is organized as early as possible, and suggested that Benitez become the first RDC-NIR chairperson.

Former Negros Occidental governor Rafael Coscolluela, who had also pushed for the passage of the NIR, thanked everyone who made NIR’s rebirth possible.

“The Negros-Siquijor Administrative Region will have much work to do before it realizes its lofty goals and expectations. I enjoin our public officials – governors, mayors and representatives in Congress – together with the private sector and concerned national government agencies, to begin the task of putting the region together, including the Regional Development Council,” he said.

“And beyond that, to craft an appropriate Regional Development Plan that harnesses the resources and potentials of the three provinces in pursuit of sustainable, equitable development,” Coscolluela added.

Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, one of the NIR bill authors, said that the new region will make it easier to do business, as residents and entrepreneurs will have all services available in one administrative region.

“Bad weather will no longer hinder people from Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental from conducting business or seeking services at regional offices,” he added.

The rationale for the creation of the region is to enable unified and coordinated island development planning, which will hopefully accelerate the economic transformation of Negros and Siquijor, Ejercito said.*

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