By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Representative Juliet Ferrer (4th District, Negros Occidental) said the creation of another province in Negros Occidental requires a long legislative process and eventually a plebiscite which is costly.
It is not necessary and in fact divisive, according to Ferrer, the author of House Bill 119 which is the mother bill of the re-establishment of the Negros Island Region (NIR).
“For these reasons, I cannot accept the proposal to create another province in order to make the provinces on equal footing as a hindrance or a pre-requisite to the passage of the NIR bill,” Ferrer said.
In a press statement, Ferrer said the rationale for the NIR House Bill is to make the regional government offices more accessible and thus make it more convenient for the constituents of the NIR.
“Although they are expressed differently by the different authors, the explanatory note of all the NIR bills have the same tenor,” the lawmaker said.
She pointed out that “there was no intention to outnumber the representatives of Negros Oriental in the Regional Development Council.”
If this was the case, the Negros Oriental representatives would not support the bill, Ferrer pointed out.
“On the contrary, they do not just support it, they are also co-authors,” Ferrer further said.
She also said that the people of Negros Occidental have been living harmoniously despite the different languages so there is no reason to make a division based on their languages now.
Ferrer also said that the creation of laws including the creation of the Negros Island Region is constitutionally vested in Congress.
“In this case, all the representatives of concerned provinces, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Siquijor, support the NIR Bill.”
She also appealed that the collective wisdom of Congress should be respected being the representatives of the people and the legislative authority recognized by the fundamental law of the land.
“Ultimately, it is Congress who has the legislative authority to pass the said bill,” Ferrer said.
Earlier, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson met with Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo to discuss with the latter the rebirth of NIR.
Degamo proposed to create a new province that will include the “Bisaya” speaking towns and cities of Negros Occidental – Sagay, Escalante, San Carlos and Toboso – along with Vallehermoso in Negros Oriental.
“Bisaya” refers to the Cebuano language which is spoken in areas covered by Sagay City to San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.
The NIR was first established in 2015 during the administration of the late President Benigno Simeon Aquino III through Executive Order No. 183.
But it was abolished by former President Rodrigo Duterte also through an EO citing the need to ensure that priority government programs and projects are sufficiently funded.