By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
During his privilege speech before the House of Representatives last night, Negros Occidental second district Rep. Leo Rafael Cueva endorsed the proposal brought forth by the local business community, pushing for the creation of a Negros Island Special Area for Development.
The proposal was made following the dissolution of the Negros Island Region (NIR), after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 38 last week.
“The people of Negros Island will respect the president’s decision and abide by the executive order,” he declared. “We also accept this is God’s will and believe that He has a better plan for Negros.”
The congressman said the creation of a special area for development would “pick up where the NIR left off,” claiming it will coordinate and integrate efforts to address common concerns of both Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.
In terms of the region’s abolition, Cueva struck back at Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who quoted the cost of the region’s retention at P19 billion.
“It is not true that we are asking for P19 billion for the setting up of our regional offices,” he insisted.
Cueva also discussed the potential transfer to federalism and appealed to have Negros formed as one state.
“As the president pushes for the shift to a federal form of government, we are requesting that Negros Island be appointed as one federal state, or, at least, assign the whole island to one federal state,” he stressed./WDJ