3-year transition of Negros Island Region pushed

April 23, 2015 10:22 am 

DUMAGUETE CITY, April 22 — Businessmen in Negros Oriental, while supporting the proposed Negros Island Region, have clarified that they want a transition period first instead of government spending some Php 40 billion to set up a regional center.

Ed Du, president of the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NOCCI), reiterated Tuesday, during a forum in Dumaguete City with Sec. Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), that a transition period of perhaps three years would allow the two Negros provinces enough time to adjust to the new regional structure if the plan materializes.

Mar Roxas had already endorsed the Negros Island Region to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III but had visited Dumaguete City for another public consultation before proceeding to Kabankalan, Negros Occidental to inspect the proposed site for the regional offices.

According to Ed Du, the NOCCI was pushing for the transition period where existing offices in both Dumaguete City and Bacolod City could be utilized first, with just some tweaks, so that during that time, there would be no cost at all on the part of the national government.

Of the 40 national government agencies in the Philippines, around 30 of them already have their provincial offices in both capital cities, so why not utilize them at first, he said.

Du said that once the Negros Island Region is in full swing, it may not be practical to travel to Kabankalan, Negros Occidental or Mabinay, Negros Oriental where the regional government offices are to be located.

A businessman who wants to do some transactions at the regional center can only access it by land as there is no airport or seaport there, Du said.

If the Negros Island Region becomes successful, then maybe that is the time to make a decision on a regional government center, the chamber president said.

Regarding the opposition to the proposal, Du suggested that the protesters should convince their elected officials to represent their voice in the deliberations.

"The presumption is that when you elected them, they are your representatives. If you are against the one island region, you should go to your elected officials. That is the process of democracy," Du said.

So far, based on the consultations that he had attended, Du said he had not heard of a "very strong opposition" to the one island region.

And in fact, up to now, he said, he has not seen any position paper that argues on the disadvantages of the proposed Negros Island region, Du said. (PNA)

RMA/JFP

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