“We are not closing our doors to the possibility of a one island, one region. But, not at this moment”, Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo said yesterday as he again explained his stand on the need for further consultation with the people of Negros Oriental.
He said there are specific matters to be thoroughly discussed to ensure that the people in Negros Oriental will not be “dehado (disadvantaged).”
Degamo and Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local Government spent at least an hour in a closed door meeting in Dumaguete City on the proposed Negros Island Region.
The meeting drew public attention to the fact that Roxas appeared to give Degamo “importance” in choosing to stay longer with him.
“I am very grateful that Sec. Mar gave me more than an hour for a private meeting when I had only requested about two to three minutes with him, and that has made me feel important,” Degamo said.
The meeting was held with hundreds waiting for Roxas at another venue where he was scheduled to meet with local chief executives and other sectors at 9 a.m. yesterday at the multi-purpose hall of Silliman University.
Asked what transpired in the meeting, Degamo said it was mainly on the proposed Negros Island Region that Roxas had recently endorsed to President Benigno Aquino III.
He said he reassured Roxas that in case the latter runs for president, he will support him as he has the potential to lead the country.
Other concerns discussed were budget requirements for some development projects in Negros Oriental, like the P300-million road project to Tamlang Valley in Sta. Catalina town, that straddles the boundaries of nearby municipalities, he said.
Roxas asked for a program of work for the project and the governor said he will submit it this week.
Meanwhile, a group of protesters rallied against the Negros Island Region and picketed peacefully while the forum/consultation at SU was going on.
Tricycles carrying placards lined the streets and, their drivers used a bullhorn to air their sentiments against the proposal. Their press statment said they were “outraged by the greedy move of Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and his cohorts to make Negros Island as a region, citing this as a greedy intent at the expense of the people.” Progressive groups from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros Oriental, Piston-Negros Oriental, ND Motors Piston Kaugmaon-KMP, Banika-Amihan, Anakbayan, Padayon and Sinagbayan participated in the protest caravan.
They said Roxas deliberately skirted the protest area and went straight to the venue. But, they said the people of Negros Oriental are hopeful that their position against the Negros Island Region will not “fall on deaf ears”.*JFP