Negros Island Region (NIR)
The Negros Island Region is divided into two provinces namely Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental, with Dumaguete City and Bacolod City as their capitals respectively. Although the two separate provinces are located in one island, they formed part of two different regions. Negros Occidental belonged to Central Visayas Region (Region VII) and Negros Oriental was part of the Western Visayas Region (Region VI).
The idea of combining the two provinces into one region already begun during the 1980’s when the officials of the two provinces proposed to have one single region for the Negros Island. During that time, it was only Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental provinces in the Philippines that are located in the same island but belonging to two different regions. Being under different regions, both provinces had separate regional offices. The talks regarding the proposal continued up to the early 1990s when the late former Governor Emilio Macias of Negros Oriental and Governor Bitay Lacson of Negros Occidental proposed it once more. However, their efforts were not recognized by the government. The discussion was again continued by former Governor George Arnaiz, who is now a Representative, and former Governor Rafael Coscolluella and they designated Kabankalan in Negros Occidental, which is just near Mabinay Municipality of Negros Oriental as the perfect spot for joint regional centers. However, the National Economic and Development Authority stopped their initiatives by saying that it was economically unfeasible since it requires huge funding which the government didn’t have before.
The Negros Island Region was again proposed during 2013 by both political divisions claiming that it will be beneficial to both provinces to stay under one region. President Benigno Aquino III directed the DILG to dig further and study the proposal regarding One Negros Island Region. It was on May 29, 2015 that President Benigno Aquino III signed an Executive Order 183 for the effectivity of one Negros Island Region. The Philippines now has 18 regions, Negros Island Region being Region XVIII.
Proponents of the NIR have stated the reasons why they wanted to have a separate region. One reason is that it was difficult to process documents and papers since the regional offices can be reached by sea or air for both provinces. With the new NIR, Negros Island will have its own Regional Office so it will be easier for the Negrenses to process documents without traveling far. Also, the proponents of Negros Island Region strongly believe that this movement can lead to better peace and order, economic growth and development, and acceleration of social development as well. The proponents envision NIR to bring efficiency in the government of Negros Island and boost tourism in the region. This movement will also lead to improved planning, administration and management of government policies and programs. The Negros Island Region will now have its own Regional technical working team and their very own Negros Island Development Council.