Good news, the governors and vice governors of Negros Occidental and Oriental, and Siquijor are now united in the push for the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR), Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said Thursday. September 21.
Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer and Negros Oriental Gov. Manuel Sagarbarria and Vice Governor Jaime Reyes met with Zubiri and Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito in Manila on Thursday.
They were joined by Siquijor Gov. Jake Villa via Zoom, Zubiri said in a Facebook post.
Also at the meeting was Special Assistant to the President Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo.
The House of Representatives approved a bill seeking the creation of the NIR composed of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor in March, and the passage of a counterpart measure in the Senate is needed for it to become a law.
The House bill was co-authored by all of the representatives of the three provinces.
Negros Occidental is currently part of Region 6 (Western Visayas) and Negros Oriental and Siquijor are part of Region 7 (Central Visayas).
“The purpose of this NIR bill is to bring our public service closer to the people (of the three provinces) under one administrative region, so that they no longer have to travel to Iloilo or Cebu to get government services,” Zubiri said.
They were told at the meeting that the Senate’s target date for the approval of NIR bill is December, Lacson said.
It is finally moving, Ejercito, who chairs the Senate Committee on Local Government, said on Thursday.
The Senate hearings on the NIR bill are set to resume.
The hearings were delayed following the assassination of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo, who was against the NIR.
“Given the events in Negros Oriental and now there is a new governor again, let them settle down first then we will call for a hearing,” Ejercito had said in August.
Degamo was assassinated on March 4 and his successor governor Carlo Jorge “Guido” Reyes succumbed to cancer on May 31.*