Establishing the Negros Island Region will concentrate reactionary political power

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The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros is skeptical of the avowed aim of forming the Negros Island Region (NIR) supposedly to stimulate the local economy and speed up the service of local agencies in the island. THe fact is, the formation of the island as a region is for the ruling political dynasties on the island to monopolize public services, including government service, water, electricity and so on.

These dynasties also drool over the planned infrastructure projects for the new region. Among them is the construction of a “superhighway” to allegedly speed up travel between Dumaguete City and Bacolod City. It will cut across the Cuernos de Negros mountain range, a key biodiversity area and watershed for 15 municipalities and cities in southern Negros Oriental. New buildings will also be built for the agencies and offices of the new region. Initially, 14 of the local offices of the national departments will be built in Bacolod, and 16 in Dumaguete.

The island’s recognition as a region was finalized when Ferdinand Marcos Jr signed Republic Act 12000, which consolidated Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor into one administrative entity on June 13. The island was previously covered by two regions—Central Visayas and Western Visayas. Meanwhile, Siquijor is under the province of Negros Oriental. The island was first integrated into a region during the Aquino II regime (2015) by virtue of Executive Order No. 183. But in 2017, Rodrigo Duterte reversed the order and restored the status qou.

Since the beginning, the Negrosanon have strongly opposed to the formation of the NIR. Firstly because it is too expensive. During the first integration, it was estimated that the funds needed to build the new local administration reached ₱19 billion. There was no real and comprehensive consultation with the people in Negros and Siquijor. The Diocese of Dumaguete also expressed concern over the possibility that Negros Oriental will be at a disadvantage because it has fewer districts and cities compared to Negros Occidental.

AB: Establishing the Negros Island Region will concentrate reactionary political power