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‘Historic signing of NIR law to bring wave of dev’t’ 

The Negros Island officials at the signing of the NIR law.*Javi Benitez FB page photo 

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s signing of the Negros Island Region (NIR) law on Thursday, June 13, will bring a wave of development for Negros and Siquijor, officials said. 

Marcos signed Republic Act 12000 creating the new region composed of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor in the presence of the officials of the three provinces at   the Ceremonial Hall of Malacañan Palace.  

The officials of the NIR provinces thanked the president and the legislators who finally made the new region a reality. 

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said “on this historic day for our province, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor, I am deeply grateful that this aspiration, more than three decades in the making  and spanning the terms of six governors of Negros Occidental, has finally come to fruition”. 

The push for creation of the NIR began during the terms of then governors Daniel Lacson Jr. of Negros Occidental and Emilio Macias of Negros Oriental in the late 1980s. 

President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order 183 creating the NIR on   May 29, 2015 during the term of governor Alfredo Marañon Jr.,   but it was abolished by President Rodrigo Duterte on Aug. 9, 2017. 

“Our belief that the immense potential of Negros Island, Siquijor, and our people can best be realized by becoming one region has driven our efforts and determination through the years,” Lacson said. 

 This welcome development will undoubtedly lead to positive impacts on the maintenance of internal security, peace and order, environmental management, disaster risk reduction, tourism promotion, integrated development planning, and easier access to regional offices, he said. 

“Let us all work together towards our shared objective of transforming Negros Island and Siquijor into a showcase of effective governance, cultural development, and social and economic progress,” he said. 

Negros Oriental Gov. Manuel “Chaco” Sagarbarria said the establishment of the NIR “aims to foster economic growth, improve public services, and empower communities on Negros Island. By uniting behind a common purpose, stakeholders have shown that meaningful progress can be achieved even in complex political environments”. 

The passage of the legislation establishing the NIR “emphasized how important cooperation and solidarity are to promoting sustainable development and strengthening social cohesion”, Sagarbarria added. 

“The challenge now begins”, he said. 

NUMEROUS BENEFITS 

Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said “with NIR becoming a reality, we can look forward to numerous benefits, including more infrastructure and development projects, new growth areas, and additional government positions that will create opportunities for our local government workers”.  

“Having our own regional offices here in Negros will also reduce bureaucratic processes. These are just some of the many advantages that NIR will bring to our three-province region”, he said. 

GOLDEN AGE 

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, author of the NIR in the Senate, said the new region will bring in unprecedented growth and development to Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Siquijor. 

“We have long wanted to have our own region, with our own government offices readily accessible to our people,” said Zubiri, who has roots in Negros. 

“With the NIR, we will be able to bring the government closer to our people,” he said.  

The NIR will be able to attract more investors to come to the region, since it will improve ease of doing business. “More investments, more jobs, more growth,” he said. 

“This is going to bring in a wave of development into the province, and mark the start of new golden age for Negros. Being that this was one of the last important measures that I helped steer on the floor and during the bicam before I stepped down as Senate President, it makes me proud to have my signature on that law,” he said. 

INTEGRATED DEV’T  

Rep. Francisco Benitez (Neg.  Occ., 3rd District), one of the authors of the NIR bill, said “This will bring government services closer to the people of Negros Island and Siquijor, and facilitate integrated development planning towards inclusive, resilient and sustainable development in the region.” 

Victorias Mayor Javier Miguel Benitez, Negros Association of Chief Executives president, said   “the people of both islands celebrate this giant leap forward and look up to the possibilities that will propel unprecedented cultural, economic, and political development in the new region”.  

“This unification will rekindle the shared history between Negros and Siquijor…Let us work as one people to facilitate an efficient transition and to integrate our mutual desire for a better region,” he added.* 

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