MANILA - Presidential aspirant Leni Robredo on Friday said she is open to reviving the Negros Island Region (NIR) if she becomes president in 2022, even after it was dissolved by the Duterte administration in 2017.
The NIR was created in 2015, when then President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order 183, joining Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental into one region and creating regional councils which aimed to focus on different aspects of regional governance.
Robredo said the formation of the region was a "big opportunity" that was lost after Duterte's decision, as it could have finally given the two provinces a chance to plan as an island-region most especially during disaster responses.
"It was a big opportunity for both Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental to finally plan as an island... Ang daming shine-share ng Negros Oriental at saka Negros Occidental that would benefit everyone," she explained in a press briefing with reporters in Negros Occidental.
"Iyong natural resources, iyong disaster management, iyong marami pang ibang mga na-a-affect kayo as a region... Iyong regional center ng Negros Occidental, iba sa Negros Oriental. Kahit pareho iyong disasters na tatama sa Negros Island, iba iyong klase ng response na mangyayari dahil magkaiba," she added.
It would also be a "huge help" for the Negros Island if the NIR would be revived.
"It was really a lost opportunity for everyone na naka-take off na sana kayo. Naka-take off na sana kayo as one region, as one island," said Robredo.
In revoking the Aquino-issued EO, Duterte had said that “there is a need to ensure that priority government programs and projects are sufficiently funded.”
He also noted in 2017 that the establishment of regional offices of departments and agencies in the NIR would require substantial appropriation to be fully operational.
-- With reports from Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News
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