Shekinah Jedidiah M. Alima

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Republic Act 12000 or Negros Island Region (NIR) Act on June 13 to create an autonomous region comprising the provinces of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor and Bacolod City. 

Photos Courtesy of Ver Noveno/Dumaguete Info/House of Representatives/Pinay Wise.

The establishment of the NIR that increased the present number of regions in the Philippines to 18 will detach Negros Occidental from Region VI and Negros Oriental from Region VII. 

According to  a press release from the Presidential Communications Office, the law aims to “promote administration decentralization; strengthen local autonomy, and accelerate economic, cultural and social development” aligned with Marcos’ Bagong Pilipinas objective.

This long-anticipated change was supposed to be passed long ago, especially when the neighboring islands are governed separately.

“This union is long overdue and makes very practical sense, especially in the Negros Island, where people are located on one island but are governed under separate administrative regions,” Marcos reiterated during the  ceremonial signing. 

The President highlighted the economic and travel difficulties that Negrenses have faced under the previous administrative arrangement. 

“For decades now, Negrenses have endured the rigors of sea travel, unnecessary expenses, bureaucratic red tape, [and] inefficiency that this arrangement has brought, especially when there is a need to urgently access government services from regional centers on other islands,” Marcos noted. 

As they share the same natural resources, the president further stated that the creation of a single administrative region between the provinces would serve as a catalyst for a “more united and flourishing Negrense community,” fostering greater economic growth.

With the creation of NIR, government services will be easily-accessed  as regional offices are set to be built across the new autonomous region.

The bill was first proposed in the 1980s named House Bill 1477, or “An act merging the Province of Negros Occidental and Oriental into One-Island Region to be known as Region 6-A and For Other Purposes.”

It was brought up in 2022 by some Negros officials who proposed House Bill 330 with an attempt to merge the two provinces of Negros into a single region. 

On March 12 this year, Senate Bill 2507 was approved on the third and final reading advancing with the merge of the NIR regions.