‘No need for 3rd Negros province for equal footing in new region’

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson (left) and Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Benitez say solutions on “equal footing” concerns should be found.,*Ricgard Malihan photo

Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said it is not necessary to create a third Negros province to assure the Oriental side of fair representation in the proposed Negros Island Region (NIR).

What should be addressed is the issue at hand, ensuring fair representation, Benitez said on Thursday, February 2.

Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, in a meeting with Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson on Wednesday, said the new region should include four provinces to ensure equal voting at Regional Development Council (RDC) meetings.

A bill pending in Congress calls for the creation of a new region composed of Negros Occidental and Oriental, and Siquijor, which is co-authored by all of the representatives of the three provinces.

Degamo wants the new region to include four provinces by creating a third one from Vallehermoso in Negros Oriental to Escalante City in Negros Occidental.

A third Negros province along with Siquijor would assure equal voting in the new region’s RDC, said Degamo, who pointed out that Negros Occidental has more representatives and cities compared to Negros Oriental.

If Degamo’s concern is fair representation then a solution should be found rather than creating a third province, Benitez said.

“The creation of a third province will take a long time and will go through a process that might not even happen during this administration,” Benitez said.

“I’d like to find the reasoning behind it, if its fair representation he wants why don’t we look for other solutions that will be faster, easier and can be understood,” Benitez said.

Lacson said Degamo said he wants equal footing because Negros Occidental is a dominant and bigger province so the Oriental side will always be outvoted in the RDC.

Degamo did not outrightly reject the creation of the NIR, what is needed is to address the issue on equal footing, Lacson said.

Lacson said he does not believe the creation of a third Negros province is the only solution for equal footing, there are other ways to assure Negros Oriental that nobody will be left behind, Lacson said.

He said he will raise the concerns of Degamo with the Negros Occidental representatives and officials so solutions can be found.

Lacson said he will then meet with Degamo after a couple of weeks and discuss with him the equal footing suggestions.

Meanwhile, data is being collated for a proposed executive order to be issued by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ahead of the passage of the law creating the new region, which will be presented to Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. this month, Benitez said.

They are still debating on whether the EO should be for the creation of Western and Central Visayas sub regions to be located in Bacolod and Dumaguete cities, or go directly to the creation of a new region, he said.

Benitez expects the president to issue the EO this year.*

Secured By miniOrangeSecured By miniOrange