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Negros leaders want NIR to be operational before end of 2024

By: Carla Gomez - Inquirer Visayas | June 24,2024 - 03:45 PM

Negros Island Region (NIR)

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. poses for a photo with legislators from the Senate and House of Representatives and other government officials after signing the Negros Island Region Act in the Malacañang on Thursday, June 13, 2024. (Photo from MPC POOL)

BACOLOD CITY — Local officials in Negros have expressed hopes that the Negros Island Region (NIR) will begin its operations as an administrative region before the end of 2024.

“We’re hoping the new region will be operational before the end of the year. But it won’t be fully blown. There will be temporary offices initially,” said Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Republic Act 12000, the law creating the NIR on June 13.

READ: Central Visayas to lose 14% of economy as NegOr, Siquijor join Negros Island Region

Marcos pledged the national government’s assistance “so that we can bring this new region up to speed as quickly as possible.”

The NIR law will take effect 15 days after completion of its publication either in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

READ: Negros Island Region bill gets Senate nod

Rep. Mercedes Alvarez of Negros Occidental’s sixth district said a technical working group composed of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Budget and Management and representatives from the three provinces in the area and the legislative districts will be convened to come up with a road map for the new region.

Birthing pains

The DILG, she said, is expected to draft the Internal Rules and Regulations (IRR) within 60 days.

READ: Slowdown in CV hog production expected due to NIR

Alvarez said she will lobby for satellite regional offices in areas where they are most needed.

“There will be birthing pains and challenges up ahead. The real work will begin as soon as the law is in effect,” she said.

The NIR, now the 18th region of the country, will be composed of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

READ: Negros Island Region: NegOr governor welcomes reformation of NIR

Negros Occidental used to belong to Western Visayas while Negros Oriental and Siquijor were under Central Visayas.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said it is important that the Regional Development Council is organized as early as possible.

Functional in 2025

“The best-case scenario actually is that it (NIR) would become fully functional in 2025, especially now that the national government is preparing the General Appropriations Act,” he said.

“We’re hoping the budget for the NIR will be included,” he added.

Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, one of the NIR bill authors, said the new region will make it easier to do business, as residents and entrepreneurs will have all services available in one administrative region.

“Bad weather will no longer hinder people from Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental from conducting business or seeking services at the regional offices,” he said.

“The rationale for the creation of the region is to enable unified and coordinated island development planning, which will hopefully accelerate the economic transformation of Negros and Siquijor,” Ejercito noted.

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TAGS: DILG, Negros Island Region

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