THE abolition of Negros Island Region (NIR) can be viewed from a “half empty, half full” perspective.
And Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. would rather look at the bright side of NIR’s dissolution amid the political angle to President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision.
Defensor said the reversion of Negros Occidental to Western Visayas will strengthen the region’s political clout.
Negros Occidental separated from the region in 2015 following the creation of Negros Island Region (NIR) by former President Benigno Aquino III.
But on Aug. 7, 2017, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 38 which dissolved NIR, thus reverting Negros Occidental to its mother region in Western Visayas and Negros Oriental to Central Visayas.
Defensor recognized that the separation of Negros has weakened the political power of Region VI.
“We lost a lot in terms of political leverage,” he said.
Negros Occidental is a province known for its strong political clans.
The Iloilo governor also welcomed the neighboring province “with open arms.”
“Being our partner in development, the growth of Region VI with Negros back to the fold will be faster,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Iloilo Business Club sympathizes with the loss of the Negrenses, particularly the businessmen.
IBC Executive Director Lea Lara said they have worked with different chambers in the province and were told that they really wanted the merging of two Negros provinces.
“It really would be convenient for businessmen to transact with NIR. I remembered their public utilities before the merging get two franchises when they are a one island. So imagine the cost of getting two permits,” she said.