MANILA, Aug. 9 — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) abolishing the Negros Island Region (NIR) that was created during the term of his predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III.
EO No. 38, which was signed by the President on August 7, repealed Aquino’s EO No. 183 which the latter signed in 2015.
In abolishing the NIR, Duterte stressed that there is a need to ensure that priority government programs and projects are sufficiently funded.
“The establishment of regional offices of departments and agencies in the NIR requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus competing with government priority programs and projects funding,” Duterte said.
As provided by EO 38, which takes effect upon publication in a newspaper of general publication, the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental shall revert to Region VI and Region VII respectively.
All regional offices and regional councils established under EO 183 are likewise abolished.
All affected personnel are ordered to return to their previous units of deployment or reassigned to other offices within their respective departments or agencies.
Furthermore, the winding up of operations of the NIR regional offices, including the final disposition of their functions, positions, personnel, assets and liabilities, shall be done immediately and completed not later than 60 days from the effectivity of the EO.
All orders, proclamations, rules, regulations and issuances, or parts thereof, inconsistent with the provision of EO 38 are likewise repealed, amended or modified accordingly.
On May 29, 2015, Aquino signed EO 183 that separated Negros Occidental from Region 6 (Western Visayas) and Negros Oriental from Region 7 (Central Visayas).
The creation of one region for Negros was supported by then Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
Roxas said the creation of the NIR would hasten the development of the two Negros provinces.
But last December, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the appropriation for the NIR has not been included in the 2016 and proposed 2017 national budgets.
The 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA) was the last national budget signed by Aquino.
In an ambush interview in Malacañang, Diokno told reporters that the NIR would cost the government at least PHP19 billion, and called it an “expensive exercise” for two provinces.
However, he also said then that the abolition of the NIR would not affect basic services in the two Negros provinces.
“The services will be provided by existing regions before the creation of NIR. We go back to the status quo,” Diokno said. (PNA)