Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento said Saturday that Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. will be the first chairman of the Negros Island Development Council, while Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo will head the NIR Regional Peace and Order Council.


Sarmiento, who presided over the NIR Technical Working Group meeting at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City, said President Benigno Aquino will issue the official appointments of Marañon and Degamo to the two posts.

He said Marañon was named to head the NIDC since he had also previously served as chairman of the Regional Development Council of Western Visayas.

Degamo said he was the one who suggested that Marañon head the NIDC. He said Marañon’s vision is really for the good of Negros Occidental and Oriental.

Sarmiento also announced on Saturday the NIR regional heads of the DILG and its attached agencies.

Margie Biligan is the NIR Department of Interior and Local Government OIC regional director, he said.

Other OIC regional heads of the DILG attached agencies are Joseph Celis – NAPOLCOM, Chief Supt. Conrado Sapa – Police Regional Office 18 , Fire Senior Supt. Rico Niel Kwan Tiu – Bureau of Fire Protection, Jail Senior Supt. Hernan Grande – Bureau of Jail Management and Protection OIC, and Senior Supt. Ernesto Agas – PNP Regional Training School, Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento also assured that although no specific allocation was made for the NIR in the 2016 national budget, there will be adequate funds for the new region’s operations in 2016.

DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero said they do not foresee that the NIR will not continue beyond the 2016 polls irrespective of who wins the presidency because, at the end of the day it is the interest of the people that is being addressed by its creation.

The NIR is a go whoever is the next president, Sarmiento said.

Tackled at the TWG meeting was the need to prepare the details for the NIR budget for 2017 since deliberations for the national budget starts in January 2016, Panadero said.

At the meeting, Panadero also raised the requests of the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Health, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Department of Tourism to set up their NIR regional offices in Bacolod City instead of Dumaguete City.

The DOLE and DOH cited the fact that their departments have existing infrastructure in Bacolod City for their offices, he said.

DOLE pointed out that Negros Oriental has two operational mill districts, while Negros Occidental has eight, Panadero said.

SEC said its client base is bigger in Negros Occidental than in Oriental, while DOT said its preference is Negros Occidental as there are more tourism associations and clients in Bacolod than in Dumaguete, Panadero added.

Degamo asked for time to meet with the Negros Oriental TWG members on the proposal and, hopefully, by January another meeting can be held, Sarmiento said.

During a TWG meeting in Manila “We were given first choice on the regional offices we wanted on the Oriental side and I chose the human development sector and there was no objection”, Degamo said in an interview.

He said Negros Oriental needs the DOLE, DOH, DOT and SEC regional offices on its side so he will ask that they remain in Dumaguete City.*CPG