BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental: Negros Occidental officials released a statement to local media over the weekend expressing their opposition to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s comment that the Negros Island Region (NIR) be dismantled and the two provinces that comprise it be reverted to Region 6 and Region 7.
The NIR was created by then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd on May 29, 2015 through Executive Order 183 that separated Negros Occidental from Region 6 (Western Visayas) and Negros Oriental from Region 7 (Central Visayas).
Diokno’s comment was quoted by Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno in an interview over local radio station Aksyon Radyo- Bacolod on Saturday.
Sueno said Diokno argued that “the NIR could not be considered as a region as it only comprises two provinces, instead of three.” Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Maranon Jr. said, “He [Diokno] is entitled to that and we respect the same.
“But, I strongly believe that no President will sign an executive order creating a new region without legal basis. The executive branch, with its research and legal staff, did their due diligence on this in the same manner that we, on Negros Island, went through the process that included an island-wide consultation.”
The governor pointed out that “it is in the best interest of the Negrenses and the future generation to have the NIR. So that we all get a clearer perspective, maybe we can revisit how ARMM [Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao] and the Cordillera Autonomous Region were created, how Caraga and the Mimaropa were established. The NIR is an administrative region not an autonomous region.”
He added, “We thought all along that budgetary requirements were the primary basis of his opposition to the NIR but today he is saying it is unconstitutional.”
Vice Governor Eugenio Lacson agreed with Maranon, saying there are legal bases for the creation of the NIR.
Lacson said “it is impossible that establishing the NIR is unconstitutional, since Aquino signed the executive order.”
EUGENE Y. ADIONG