Dumaguete ready to host regional offices under NIR

Posted by watchmen
June 20, 2024


PNA file photo by Mary Judaline F. Partlow
PNA file photo by Mary Judaline F. Partlow

Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo welcomed the signing of the Negros Island Region (NIR) Act into law on June 13, saying that Dumaguete is ready to host the regional offices in the city.

Remollo said he has already allocated lots for free to some national agencies and offered the remaining lots to regional offices that will be assigned in the province.

He said the NIR Act will not only accelerate economic growth and efficient delivery of government services, but will also stabilize or institutionalize the grouping of the provinces of Occidental and Oriental and Siquijor into Region 18.

Remollo said the NIR will make business transactions accessible and easy as a result of the unified location of regional government offices.

“This is favorable for us. Instead of setting up all unified regional offices in one place, we might as well plan connectivity or a road network from Bayawan City to Cadiz City passing through Cuernos de Negros mountain so that travel [time] from Dumaguete to Bacolod would be two hours and 15 minutes only,” he explained.


Super central highway

Remollo revealed plans for the construction of a super central highway and other infrastructure projects that would shorten the travel time from Dumaguete to Bacolod for the realization of the NIR.

Initially, the previous technical working group identified 16 regional offices that would be located in Dumaguete in Negros Oriental, while 14 regional offices in the Occidental side.

The 16 regional offices that will be located in Negros Oriental include the Department of Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Commission on Higher Education, Civil Service Commission, Philippine Statistical Authority, Professional Regulation Commission, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Tourism, Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Public Works and Highways, and Department of Transportation and Communication.

Meanwhile, the 14 regional offices that will establish their regional offices in Bacolod, Negros Occidental are Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Department of Justice, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Department of National Defense, Office of the Civil Defense, Department of Budget and Management, National Economic and Development Authority, Commission on Audit, and Commission on Elections.


Big advantage

For Edward Du, president of Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NOCCI), the 16 regional offices in Dumaguete is a big advantage to the residents in the province, compared to the current set up where all regional offices are in Cebu.

However, Du said the creation of NIR will not have a “dramatic” impact on the business side but will bring about more ease in doing business.

“Our concern is ease of doing business [because] we do not have to [cross the sea] to Cebu, but even [during typhoons], we can still transact in Bacolod, and we don’t have to travel for six hours to Cebu. This will lessen our lost time in traveling,” Du said.

He thanked the president for acting on his promise to make NIR a reality.

“We are deeply grateful to President Bongbong Marcos [because] he fulfilled his promise when he visited Dumaguete City on May 20 that he would sign Senate Bill 2507 creating the Negros Island Region in spite of the strong opposition from the Catholic Church and some threats of legal action on the issue of constitutionality,” said the NOCCI president.

Earlier, the Diocese of Dumaguete in Negros Oriental and Siquijor had opposed the creation of NIR and asked Marcos to veto Senate Bill Number 2507 for alleged lack of proper public consultation.

The diocese issued an open letter to the President, stating that the members of the clergy avowed their position on the proposed NIR creation.

Bishop Julito Cortes, in a letter, said the Senate bill was passed despite a lack of information dissemination and public consultation.

The letter said the creation of the NIR threatens to exacerbate existing inequalities, as Negros Oriental finds itself disadvantaged by fewer districts and cities compared to Negros Occidental.

“The asymmetry in representation and resource allocation could perpetuate systemic injustices, further marginalizing vulnerable communities,” the bishop added. (PIA-7 Negros Oriental)

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