The proposal of Gov. Roel Degamo to create a third province in Negros island as a precondition to the setting up of a Negros Island Region is unlikely to materialize.
First, creating a Province will take years while creating a Negros Island Region will only take an executive order from the President.
Second, our situation as a Province would not be worse off under an Island-Region. Negros Occidental also has seven congressional districts, similar to what we now have in Cebu in the Central Visayas Region, where we belong. We are already outvoted as we are under the present situation.
In fact, Negros Oriental could not be in a worse situation—we are already the poorest province in Central Visayas. That’s right, even our former sub-province of Siquijor has outdone us economically. In fact, Siquijor is the richest province in Central Visayas, with a poverty index of only 3.4 percent, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority in its 2021 census that has recently been made public.
The PSA says one third of the people of Negros Oriental are officially considered poor, which became higher than the 25 percent poverty incidence in 2018. The reason for the increase in the poverty index was the COVID 19 pandemic and Typhoon Odette, which did substantial damage to the residents of Negros Oriental.
We, as a Province, definitely need all the help we can get. We would have to rely on the good intentions of those pushing for the creation of the Negros Island Region from the Negros Occidental side, where they said they are also looking for other means to equalize the opportunities of all provinces under the NIR.