BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The bill providing for the creation of a Negros Island Region (NIR), a separate administrative division in the country that would include the Occidental and Oriental provinces in Negros island, and Siquijor province is waiting for its twin in the House of Senate, also called the Upper House, before a bill that is a step away from a law can be born.
An administrative region is mandated under the Local Government Code passed during the Aquino I administration and is planned to facilitate faster implementation of national government projects and programs.
The Oriental and Occidental have, since the Cory Aquino administration, been under two different regions, 6 for the Occidental, and 7 for the Oriental.
The Oriental is a Bisaya-speaking province similar to those in Cebu island where Region 7 is based while the Occidental is a Hiligaynon speaking area, similar to those in Panay island where Region 6 is based.
House Deputy Speaker and Negros Occidental Sixth District Representative Mercedes Alvarez Lansang, a principal author of House Bill No. 7355 told DNX there are now five Senate bills that could become the counterpart version to theirs.
- Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1479 or the Negros Island Region Act of 2022 filed 7 November 2022 by Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid;
- SBN 1422 or the One Negros Island Act filed 27 October 2022 by Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.;
- SBN 1236 or the Negros Island Region Act of 2022 filed 31 August 2022 by Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito;
- SBN 812 or the Negros Island Region Act filed 25 July 2022 by Sen. Win Gatchalian; and
- SBN 89 or the Negros Island Administrative Region Act filed 7 July 2022 by Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Joel Villanueva.
Under the Philippine legislative process, the bicameral legislature must pass the same bill before it can be ready for the President’s signature.
On May 29, 2015, The NIR was first creates on 29 May 2015 through Executive Order 183 signed by then-President Benigno Aquino III, separating Negros Occidental from Western Visayas, and Negros Oriental from Central Visayas.
However, “on Aug. 7, 2017, former President Rodrigo Duterte issued EO 38 abolishing the NIR, stressing the need to ensure that priority government programs and projects are sufficiently funded,” PNA reported.