EditorialThree-point shot

Three-point shot


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At the outset, a disclosure is in order.

The Dumaguete MetroPost is a member of the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce, Inc. and has been an advocate for the Negros Island Region.

The law passed by Congress creating the Negros Island Region is one of the best things to happen during the term of President BongBong Marcos. It will be even better if he will sign it into law.

Negros Island used to be one province. The priests from Bacolod got tired of having to go around the island just to go to Dumaguete that they petitioned to split the island into two provinces. Thus, in 1890, the two provinces of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental were created.

Traveling between the two provinces continued to be a long journey that the Negros Occidental folk kept mostly to their side of the island and the Negros Oriental folk also kept themselves to the eastern side of the island. It was natural for the Oriental Negrenses to gravitate to Cebu for their business needs as the Occidental Negrenses leaned towards Iloilo for theirs. That’s why our regional centers were created as such.

That explains the language barrier, as the two provinces spoke different tongues. This contributed to the strengthening of the cultural biases each province had against the other.

Then came the opening of the road networks in the mountains connecting the two provinces. It was like breaking down a brick wall. The breeze of trade and commerce as well as visits between the peoples of the two provinces suddenly became so common that the leaders of both provinces started to explore ways of working together for the development of the island.

This meant working together to manage Peace and Order, the environment, our natural resources, our infrastructure and the delivery of public services. This was the rationale for the Negros Island Region.

During the recent Holy Week holidays, netizens posted on social media that wherever they went, the people in our restaurants and stores were speaking only two languages—Hiligaynon and Tagalog.

Attempts at forming a Negros Island Region started with some joint projects, such as organic farming, to see how both provinces could work together.

The result of such projects inspired the leaders to institutionalize their efforts to further develop the island. They then discussed the possibility of forming one administrative region in the island. Studies showed that this was feasible and Pres. Benigno Aquino, Jr. created the NIR through an Executive Order. 

It worked!

The NIR, however, was short-lived as Pres. Aquino’s successor, Rodrigo Duterte, abolished it soon after he assumed office.

As soon as Duterte was gone, our lawmakers then got together to craft a law creating the Negros Island Region. It was a long process until the House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 7355 in March 2023, while the Senate approved its version, Senate Bill No. 2507, on March 12, this year.

Now, the law is awaiting President Marcos’ signature and he has said he is inclined to sign it into law.

And like a basketball player desperately trying to win some points with barely three seconds to spare, the Diocese tried to pull a three-point shot by asking the President to veto the law.

What gives? They had all the chances to oppose the NIR when the congress was crafting the law but they did not lift a finger. Now, all of a sudden, they want to have a say on the matter, citing a ten-year-old survey, which showed that most Oriental Negrenses were against the idea.

So much has changed, though. Back in 2014, the poverty incidence of Negros Oriental was at 50 percent. In 2018, it became 32.7 percent and the economy further improved in 2022, pegging the poverty incidence at 23.6 percent.

When the NOCCI did an informal poll on social media last April 11, there were 34 in favor versus only 7 against it.

Res Ipsa Loquitur.



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