By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Moises Padilla Mayor and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) consultant Magdaleno Peña said Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr. was “fooled” by former Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary and failed 2016 presidential candidate Mar Roxas and former President Benigno S. Aquino III into establishing the Negros Island Region (NIR).
The region was established in 2015 through an executive order signed by Aquino, however, earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 38, which overturned the previous order and abolished the region.
The mayor explained, if Roxas and Aquino were serious about NIR, they would have moved to ensure a budget was established for the region and was included in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Peña also believes there were politics involved, noting, had Marañon and former Negros Occidental Governor Rafael Coscolluela been more respectful to then-candidate Duterte, perhaps the president would have had a change of heart.
During the campaign, Coscolluela called the former Davao City mayor’s demeanor “an insult to the Code of Ethics,” even urging citizens to keep their children and women away from him.
The former governor also called out Duterte, saying, “If you have a problem with that, tell me where we can meet and settle our differences – man-to-man.”
The governor, meanwhile, who has since joined the president’s PDP-Laban, said, ahead of the election, a Duterte administration would drive away investors, claiming Manila businessmen were “panicking” at the prospect of a Duterte win.
He also declared to voters, who he claimed were being intimidated to not vote for Roxas, “Don’t allow yourselves to be scared.”
The region’s dissolution stemmed from Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno quoting the cost of the region’s retention at P19 billion./WDJ