Migz prioritizing NIR in Senate; It will boost growth, guv says

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, who is set to lead the Senate in the 19th Congress.*

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, who is set to lead the Senate in the 19th Congress, said on Monday, June 20, that he is committed to file and spearhead the Negros Island Region Act in the upper chamber.

“I thank president-elect Bongbong Marcos for assuring us, this early on, of his support for the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR),” Zubiri said.
Twelve representatives on Negros Island and Siquijor are also jointly filing a bill seeking the establishment of the NIR on the first day of the 19th Congress on July 1, Rep. Francisco Benitez (Neg., Occ., 3rd District) said Saturday.

The bill will include the provinces of Negros Occidental and Oriental and Siquijor in the NIR, he said.

Bacolod mayor-elect Alfredo Benitez said he will also ask Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and Negros Oriental Gov.-elect Henry Teves to write formal letters requesting for the creation of the NIR.

Lacson said he will do “whatever needs to be done to have the NIR on the table, at least in Congress, we will do it”.

He is glad that the Negros representatives have decided to file the NIR bill as one because it means it would will be created through a law.

Lacson said he is optimistic about the creation of the NIR and the construction of the Panay Negros Guimaras bridge that will bring faster growth to the area.

“There has been a long history behind the NIR, and my fellow Negrenses are eager to see its establishment after decades of lobbying,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri said he originally filed the bill in November 2021, in a bid to bring Negros Occidental and Oriental under a single administrative region.

At present, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental belong to separate administrative regions—Region VI and Region VII, respectively.

This has long posed a challenge for Negrenses, whose access to government services and offices are hampered by geographic and administrative barriers, he said.

Then president Benigno Aquino III issued an executive order creating the NIR that existed from May 29, 2015 to August 9, 2017. However it was abolished by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The abolishment of the NIR was a setback, but with the new administration’s support, I am very hopeful that we can finally reestablish the region, under the proper legislative framework this time,” Zubiri said.

“Once we establish the NIR, we will be able to hasten the development of Negros Island, and give it its own dedicated regional offices. That is really the main point behind the establishment of the NIR — making government services accessible to our people. With those in place, we will be able to lay down the groundwork to make Negros a center of commerce and tourism in the Visayas region”, he added

Benitez said the agreement in the proposed NIR bill to be filed in the Lower House is that regional offices of infrastructure-type agencies will be located in Bacolod City with extension offices in Dumaguete City.

The social welfare agencies will be in Dumaguete City with extension offices in Bacolod City, he added.*

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