(PNA file photo)

BACOLOD CITY– Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and this city’s Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez reaffirmed their support for the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR) after Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo aired opposition to the proposal earlier this week.

“Well, that’s not good news but we’ll see. We already have senators who pushed for NIR. We will continue to support that,” Lacson told Capitol reporters on Wednesday.

He said he can reach out to Degamo to “find out what made him change his mind”.

Reports said Degamo raised the issue of “language and cultural differences”.

Benitez furnished reporters a copy of the position paper he submitted to the House of Representatives, expressing his full support for the creation of a new region.

“If (Negros) Oriental doesn’t want to be part of it, it’s up to them. If they’re happy with their present situation they will just go to Cebu, that’s up to them. But for us, particularly in Negros (Occidental) and Bacolod City, we prefer that there would be a sub-region here for fast processes with national government agencies, directly just here,” he said.

Benitez reiterated his idea of dividing Region 6 (Western Visayas) into two regions.
Under Region 6-A are the four Panay Island provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan and Antique, and Guimaras while under Region 6-B, are the two Negros Island provinces and Siquijor.

“This subregion is what we will present to the President (Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.) together with (Interior and Local Government) Secretary (Benjamin) Abalos Jr. I talked to him (Abalos) yesterday (Tuesday) on the merits, the pros and cons of the sub-region,” Benitez said.

On Dec. 5, the Senate committee on local government approved Senate Bill 1236, authored by Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, seeking to create the NIR to boost the efficiency of the delivery of government services and provide convenience for the region’s residents and at the same time in line with the administration's goal of rightsizing.

“The need of our compatriots in Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental to turn Negros Island into a region is clear so that the services of the national government can be accelerated and brought closer to them),” Ejercito said. (PNA)