BACOLOD CITY: Those fighting for retention of the Negros Island Region (NIR) may have found a supporter in Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Micahel Lloyd Dino, who said on Saturday that he wants Negros leaders to submit to him their position paper so he could present it during the next Cabinet meeting.
“The NIR has been a problem, a confusion,” said Dino, who was the guest speaker and inducting officer during the 81st Induction Ceremonies of the Negros Press Club in Bacolod City.
He added that Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had said the new region needs P19 billion to operate “which is too expensive.”
“But when I talked to Negros leaders, they said that the region can operate with just P1 billion annually,” Dino said.
Former President Benigno Aquino 3rd signed Executive Order 183 on May 29, 2015 that separated Negros Occidental from Region 6 (Western Visayas) and Negros Oriental from Region 7 (Central Visayas).
The NIR has been in operation with 22 national agencies establishing regional offices there with their budgets coming from the mother regions.
The Negros leaders have been strongly lobbying for the retention of NIR after Diokno said that President Rodrigo Duterte was inclined to sign an executive order abolishing it.
Dismissed Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno was the leading Cabinet official who strongly lobbied for the NIR’s retention.
Maria Lina Sanogal, provincial planning and development officer of Negros Occidental, said all documents on the NIR’s retention are with Interior Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo.
But, Sanogal, a member of the technical working group that studied the NIR, said she “is happy and grateful Secretary Dino is willing to help lobby for NIR.”
“After all, he is the presidential assistant for the Visayas so his voice for the development of the Visayas is significant enough to get the attention of the President,” she added.
EUGENE Y. ADIONG