The signature of President Benigno S. Aquino III under the Executive Order No. 183, s, 2015 which creates the Negros Island Region – or for short NIR – came faster than many expected.
As many times, we heard and read many different opinions over the last weeks and months about the Negros Island Region. Most of them really showed a lot of misunderstanding what that new built region really is. One of the most common mistakes is the thought that Negros Oriental and Occidental will be one big province.
This is wrong! The two provinces will remain independent. They are NOT forced together.
While the words “region” and “province” should be self-explaining, it appears that they also get widely ignored. Both provinces will remain independent with their own provincial governments in Dumaguete and Bacolod. A region in the Philippines has no own government (with one exception, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao). However, it does have a regional center which is not yet announced and once again all cities thrown into that are pure speculations.
Why a Negros Island Region?
Negros Oriental belonged with Cebu Island, Bohol and Siquijor to Region VII (Central Visayas) Negros Occidental was part of Region VI, the Western Visayas which consists of the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras and Iloilo. Being part of this regions the piece of the money-pie which went to the two provinces on Negros Island was considerably smaller per head as it is supposed to be.
Funds were rather used for the cities on the main islands (Cebu and Panay) of each region than passed to Negros Island. Now the new formed Negros Island Region may or may not show more unity when it comes down to the funds. The NIR will heave a better position when it comes to public investments where our island felt short in the past.
For all who did not read the EO No.183, below a quote of it to get familiar with the content.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 183
CREATING A NEGROS ISLAND REGION AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
WHEREAS, Article X, Section 4 of the Constitution provides that the President shall exercise general supervision over local government units;
WHEREAS, the administrative regions were established to promote efficiency in the Government, accelerate social and economic development and improve public services;
WHEREAS, Article X, Section 14 of the Constitution requires the President to provide for regional development councils or other similar bodies for purposes of administrative decentralization to strengthen the autonomy of units therein; and
WHEREAS, there is a need to further accelerate the social and economic development of the cities and municipalities comprising the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental and improve the delivery of public services in the aforementioned provinces;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO S. AQUINO III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution and existing laws, do hereby order:
SECTION 1. Negros Island Region
The Negros Island Region (NIR) is hereby created. The NIR shall be composed of the following provinces, including the cities, municipalities, and barangays comprising the provinces:
a. Negros Oriental; and
b. Negros Occidental.
SECTION 2. Negros Island Region Technical Working Group (NIR-TWG)
A Negros Island Technical Working Group, composed of the Office of the President (OP), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the representatives of the Provinces of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental, is hereby constituted to form a Technical Working Group (TWG).
The TWG will formulate a Roadmap to put in place the institutional arrangements for the NIR by 2015-2016; recommend to the OP the preferred Regional Center; arrange the requirements for organizational development, staffing, and budgeting of regional line and regulatory agencies, as well as the imperatives for development planning and investment programming.
SECTION 3. Regional Councils
Notwithstanding the activities of the NIR-TWG, the following Regional Councils are hereby constituted and the following government agencies are hereby designated as the interim secretariats:
a. Negros Island Development Council – NEDA Secretariat;
b. Negros Island Peace and Order Council – DILG as Secretariat; and
c. Negros Island DRRM Council – Office of Civil Defense (OCD) as Secretariat.
SECTION 4. Funding
The funding for NIR-TWG shall be sourced from the implementing agencies of the NIR-TWG and the provinces making up the NIR, subject to the availability of funds and upon compliance with all existing applicable laws and budgetary, accounting, and auditing rules and regulations.
SECTION 5. Role of Government Agencies
All departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, and instrumentalities of the national government, including government-owned or -controlled corporations and government financial institutions, are hereby directed to extend their full assistance to the NIR-TWG in support of its functions and activities.
SECTION 6. Repealing
All orders, issuances, rules and regulations or parts thereof which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Order are hereby repealed, amended, or modified accordingly.
SECTION 7. Separability
If any provision of this Order is declared invalid or unconstitutional, the other provisions unaffected thereby shall remain valid and subsisting.
SECTION 8. Effectivity
This Order shall take effect immediately upon its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
DONE, in the City of Manila, this 29th day of May, in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and Fifteen.
(Sgd.) BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
By the President:
(Sgd.) PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.
The Negros Island Region will not be the “cure for cancer” and it will take time to see any positive effect. One thing is certain, it can be a big step in the direction of improvement. If that will happen and how long it takes is to this point only speculation and certainly depends on the “captains and their crew” to navigate the NIR into the (hopefully) correct direction.