Negros Island Region no more
President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order (EO) revoking the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR).
Duterte signed EO 38 on Monday, revoking EO 183 issued during the Aquino administration, which created the Negros Island Region (NIR) by collapsing into one region the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.
“The provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental shall revert to Region VI and VII, respectively,” the EO read, separating once again the Occidental and Oriental provinces.
The EO said the establishment of regional offices of departments and agencies in the NIR requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus, competing with government priority programs and projects for funding.
The new EO ordered regional councils and offices to return, within 60 days, to their previous units of deployment or to be reassigned to other offices.
It added that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) would supervise the reversion of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental provinces to Regions 6 (Western Visayas) and 7 (Central Visayas), respectively.
Former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas lamented the dissolution of NIR, saying it would slow down the development of the two Negros provinces. The unification of the two provinces into one region was one of Roxas’s pet programs when he was still the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s created the NIR in May 2015.
A few hours after the Palace announced EO 38, Roxas posted on his social media accounts:
“Nanugunan gid ako nga waay madayon ang Negros Island Region. Madamo ang magabenepisyo kung ginpadayon ini. Sayang.”
(It is such as waste that the Negros Island Region was dissolved. Many would have benefited in a unified Negros region. What a pity.)
“With NIR dissolution, mga Negrense will be traveling farther and spending more for services and Negros Occidental and Oriental development will be slower,” he said.
With Duterte’s order, Negros Occidental will be returned to the Western Visayas’ jurisdiction, which has Iloilo as its regional base; and Negros Oriental to Central Visayas, which has Cebu as its regional center.
Meanwhile, officials of the DILG and the Philippine National Police in Central Visayas said they are now waiting for instruction from their higher offices on when and how to go about reverting regional government operations in Negros Oriental to Region 7.
The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) said they would waited for the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of EO 38 before they will take over again the police offices in Negros Oriental, said PRO-7 spokesperson Senior Insp. Reslyn Abella.
Abella assured none of the police operations in Negros Oriental would be affected by the change since all police officers and units in the provincial, city and municipal levels were already in place.
For his part, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino said EO 38 served as a “very clear” message that Mr. Duterte is pushing for federalism.
“(The provinces under) NIR will have their own turf when federalism takes place. (But) in the meantime, Budget Secretary (Benjamin) Diokno assured that public delivery service (in the defunct NIR) will not be repealed by EO 38,” he added.
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