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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Marcos signs law forming Negros Island Region  

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Negros Island Region

• Negros Occidental

• Bacolod City

• Negros Oriental

• Siquijor

President Marcos signed into law a measure establishing the Negros Island Region that will be composed of Negros Occidental, Bacolod City, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.

“This union is long overdue and makes very practical sense, especially in the Negros Island, where people are located on one island but are governed under separate administrative regions,” Mr. Marcos said during the ceremonial signing of Republic Act 12000 in Malacañang on Thursday.

“We envision as well the NIR as one of the centers of development in the Visayas, further accelerating socio-economic development for the millions of Negrenses and providing strategic convergence regarding resources, investments, and economic planning,” the President added.

The new law brought the total number of regions in the Philippines to 18.

“For decades now, Negrenses have endured the rigors of sea travel, unnecessary expenses, bureaucratic red tape, [and] inefficiency, especially when there is a need to urgently access government services from regional centers on other islands,” Mr. Marcos said.

The chief executive also noted the glaring uneven growth and disparity of funding between the two provinces, which share many of same natural resources and industries such as sugar, tourism and renewable energy.

“We are overjoyed. This has been a long-standing dream for both sides, including Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Siquijor,” said Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Lacson.

Lacson said with the signing of the bill into law, preparations will begin to establish regional offices of various government agencies and the regional development council.

“This is not just a political milestone but a major leap towards more efficient governance and economic prosperity,” Lacson added.

The integration of the three provinces into a single region is expected to streamline bureaucratic processes, attract investments, and promote tourism.

The Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed the development, predicting significant economic and tourism growth as the Negros Island Region leverages its unique geographic and cultural assets.

The chamber has long championed the establishment of the new region, citing potential benefits such as increased investor confidence and improved regional infrastructure.

Currently, Negros Occidental is part of Western Visayas, while Negros Oriental and Siquijor belong to Central Visayas.

In 2015, then-President Benigno Aquino III established an NIR through an executive order, which was eventually revoked by his successor, former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte’s EO 38 reverted the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental to Region VI and Region VII, respectively.

President Marcos said the new Negros Island Region “will be a bulwark of greater growth as well as a conduit for more effective and efficient delivery of essential services in the region.”

“In unity, there is always strength. And that is what we are building, and I trust that the people of the newly established Negros Island Region will work together to complement each other’s strengths to build a more united and flourishing Negrense community,” he added.

For his part, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said the new will usher in unprecedented growth and development to these provinces.

“We will also be able to attract more investors to come to the region, since the merging into one administrative region is set to improve our ease of doing business. More investments, more jobs, more growth,” Zubiri said.

The NIR Act is one of the priority measures of President Marcos.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline: “Marcos signs law forming Negros Island Region”

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