Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo said it is not true that it is an overwhelming consensus of the people to revive the plan to integrate the two provinces of Negros into one region, as stated in the resolution approved by the Dumaguete Sangguniang Panlungsod in its regular session Wednesday.
Degamo was reacting to the pronouncements of Dumaguete Vice Mayor Woodrow Maquiling Sr., quoting Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas that they have not received any document from any group in the province expressing its opposition to the proposal, and that he was given one week by Roxas to submit the resolution of support.
Degamo said he has written the Office of the President about the opposition of majority of the people of Negros Oriental, while non-government organizations, religious groups and other sectors in the community are also submitting their position papers on the matter.
He added that the people were not consulted, but were campaigned on by provincial officials pushing for the concept, with the 4Ps beneficiaries as attendees.
The SP resolution states that the one-region concept will speed up the delivery of basic services and promote equitable distribution of resources in the island, especially Dumaguete, aside from an envisioned increase in investments and the coming of more tourists in the island.
Under the setup, Negrenses will be provided with a more convenient access to regional centers that will be established, either in Bacolod or Dumaguete, thus eliminating the cost and inconvenience of crossing the Tañon Strait to Cebu, especially during bad weather.
Dumaguete councilors Nelson Patrimonio, Lilani Ramon, Peter Catan, Jose Victor Imbo, Dan Leon, Lionel Banogon, and Franklin Esmena Jr., and Maquiling voted in favor of the resolution because they said, under Region 7, Negros Oriental is not getting enough attention in terms of infrastructure development.
Those opposed were councilors Manny Arbon and Melissa Tuballa, who said they voted against the resolution on constitutional grounds, while Councilor Antonio Remollo said it is not correct to say that the academe in Dumaguete has endorsed the one-region proposal.
Esmeña said he voted in favor on condition that both provinces will get equal share of the budget. Arbon said that if it is true that Roxas has asked Maquiling to endorse the concept, his negative vote should not be misinterpreted as not toeing the line, being a member of the Liberal Party, because of the constitutionality of breaking up and forming another region. He said he hopes those who voted yes will be proven right.
Former Councilor Albert Aquino said he cannot see the benefit that P40 billion can give to Negros Island, except in cooperating in certain concerns, like environmental protection because the two provinces share the same watershed, to include joint protection of the Canlaon National Park.*JG