Negros One: A panacea or a curse in waiting?


On May 29, 2015, President Aquino signed Executive Order 183 creating Negros Island Region. This puts into one political entity the 19 municipalities and 13 cities of Negros Occidental and 19 municipalities and six cities of Negros Oriental. The two provinces of Negros used to belong to two separate administrative regions—Negros Occidental to Western Visayas or Region 6 and Central Visayas or Region 7.

One island region first hit the headlines about 20 years ago when the idea was raised by then Negros Occidental governor Daniel Lacson and Negros Oriental governor Emilio Macias during the administration of President Fidel Ramos. Lacson said One Negros will hasten growth and step up their thrust on organic food production. But it died repeatedly.

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Rep. Alfredo Marañon 3rd spearheaded its revival. At first, Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo made public his opposition but eventually toed the line.

There is confusion as to what advantages in governance the creation of such administrative region could bring. Will Negros Island Region (NIR) only add up to another layer of bureaucracy? Or a panacea to any socio –bureaucratic –political problem in the locality?

Here is my take. Notwithstanding the legal construction on its creation, I think Negros Occidental will be acting like a big brother to its smaller brother, Negros Oriental.

But I seem to have developed a paranoia because of other similar events. I’m talking here of the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Like NIR, it was also carved out from different regions of Southern Mindanao. The thing is, the real intention of ARMM remains as elusive as peace in Mindanao. Can anyone cite some major infrastructure development in the region?

It is also good to look at the Cordillera Administrative Region. The region was carved out from Ilocos and Cagayan regions. Like ARMM, the intent was for development but how many provinces in CAR reached heights in terms of development? Baguio City, I think, did.

Sadly, history is not in One Negros side.

The spirit of the creation is to shorten bureaucracy, literally and figuratively. Proponents would like the Negrenses believe that instead of the people in Negros Oriental going to Cebu and people in Negros Occidental going to Iloilo to transact with the regional offices, they can save time and resources due to the creation of new offices in the island region.

The intent is good. But will it guarantee smooth flow of bureaucratic processes? What about funding? What development will this One Negros region bring?

I asked the father of local government, former senator Nene Pementel on his take on the One Island Region. Pimentel is positive that it will see its real heights. He believes that if this Administrative Region of Negros will prove its worth, this can be a template for federal government.

There is no doubt the president has the power to create such region. But how will it concretize good intent? As the late Supreme Court Justice Isagani Cruz once said, “No matter how well lettered is the law, the point of the matter is in the implementation.”

So, good luck!

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  1. Correction please, our governor, Roel Ragay Degamo, did not tow the line of the negros island region. His stand is, he is not against or for NIR but he wants to know of its pros and cons – will it be beneficial to the province and people of negros oriental and the prople will be consulted about this. We salute our Governor because when the President signed EO 183, our good governor accepted the EO as a good and professional man as he respect the authotity of the President. We know that our Governor is now preparing his team for the TWG that will formulate the IRR eith their occidental counterpart and assuring that the interest of the province and its people will be protected and the people wil be consulted. We believed our governor is very consistent with his stand about the NIR and his sincerity to protect us.

  2. Such an apprehensive and defeatist point-of-view, with regards to a creation of one island region. How is it that there are people who seem to insist of maintaining the status quo, and not embrace a paradigm shift?

    As stated, the idea started more that two decades ago, and for the two governors to finally come to terms with the idea of joining up the two sides of the island, it must be presumed that questions regarding its implementation must have been ironed out, and that both governors came to be on the same page, in reading their respective mission and road maps.

    No one can expect an immediate progressive result, because it will take time to bear the growing pains of development, issues will have to be continually threshed out, with one not losing sight of its goals and objectives.

    To make comparison between Negros and that of Mindanao or Cordillera, is very presumptive, Negros unlike Mindanao does not have a division of indigenous tribes to contend with in carving out territories, Negros unlike Cordillera has an abundance of natural resources that can provide growth when harnessed well.

    This is now the time to really test that Negrosanon’s will of perserverance and resilience, to get their acts together for the prosperity of the island.

    Bidding of luck is for something relegated to come by chance, but having an administrative body armed with a concrete road map to move the island forward, is a guarantee towards bureaucratic success – there is no turning back now.

  3. I am inclined to believe that the creation of the Negros island Region will just be another opium for the long suffering people of the island which is among the poorest in the country threatened by a continuing insurgency problem and the enslavement of many sugar and agricultural workers by the landlords and sugar barons who are likewise the trapos and dynastic politicians who have ruled Negros since the spaniards occupied the country.Only the rich and the powerful of negros will benefit.The POOR and sacadas of the island will continue to remain poor until the secong coming of the Messiah.